Roxbury Prep is a middle school set in the suburbs of Boston, located on the top floor of a retirement home. It was established by two locals who were concerned at the level of achievement in local public schools. As a charter school, they enjoy some freedom not enjoyed by public schools despite being publicly funded but they are required to meet the terms of their Charter.
The school educates 450 students and has a commitment to finding graduates places in the best high schools in Boston and then supporting students through their college education. It is an ambitious program that seeks to show kids from poor backgrounds with no history of family commitment to education that they can receive a first rate education. Access to the school is by ballot.
The school leadership team consists of two co-directors. All staff work in teams and are guided by the co-directors. Faculties are led by a ‘faculty coach’ who organising meetings for professional learning. Year groups have ‘year coaches’ and students are organised in teams. Each staff member then becomes a personal mentor for up to eight students. This builds strong relationships, trust and collegiality, which influences students’ attitudes to learning.
There are five staff who track and advise graduates through their high schooling and college education. They contact every graduate at regular intervals and ask for feedback on their progress. Graduates are welcome back at any time for advice ranging from how to relate to a new teacher to how to apply for scholarships. All this is aimed at keeping students at school and engaged in their learning.
Teachers have precise data on each student’s progress and they use this to help personalise the learning. As a charter school, Roxbury is able to adapt the local curriculum framework (a set of standards), which they then extend and stretch to ensure it challenges students.