A History of Achievement
The Marblehead Community Charter Public School, located in a seaport community on Boston’s north shore is a 4th -8th grade middle school serving students and families of Marblehead, Massachusetts, and its surrounding towns. In 1993, encouraged by the state’s newly enacted education reform legislation, a small group of active public school parents gathered to discuss the possibility of creating a charter school that would better meet the needs of their children. For these parents, the creation of a charter school was just the opportunity they were looking for to play a more significant role in the education program of their children. During the next eighteen months, they formed committees, wrote proposals, and invited other parents to discuss the creation of a small community-based middle school that would nurture and educate a diverse student population. According to the MCCPS charter proposal, students would experience “success in their education through a challenging program of core academic studies, the reinforcement of productive attitudes toward work, community, school friends, and self, a focus on the individual strengths and weaknesses of each student, an integrated program of community service learning, and a commitment to producing a replicable model of public education.” (Executive Summary, Marblehead Community Charter School Charter 1994). The school’s mission statement serves as a summary of what the school would offer its students and how the school would work to realize its stated goals. Its language is a witness to the ideals as well as the passion of the founders: Realizing that it takes an entire community to educate a child, the mission of the Marblehead Community Charter Public School is to create a partnership among community members, teachers, parents, and students that will provide our early adolescents with the support necessary to reach their highest individual potential intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically, so they are highly contributing members of our democratic society; and to provide a laboratory for examining, developing and fostering the interrelatedness of the school as a learning community and the community as a learning environment. Over the years, the MCCPS Board of Trustees has modified the mission statement to more efficiently communicate the school’s mission with its stakeholders. The resulting edited mission statement retains the spirit of the original mission statement while focusing primary attention on student achievement: Recognizing that children learn best in the context of community, our mission is to create partnerships among community members that assist students in reaching their highest intellectual, social, emotional, and physical potential. The authors of the charter knew instinctively what their children needed in order to succeed. They envisioned a learning environment where children would be nurtured, challenged, and supported in reaching and achieving their highest potential. In March of 1995, the MCCPS Board of Trustees engaged a Head of School and charged him to hire a group of reform-minded educators who would dedicate themselves to creating and sustaining a school to fulfill the MCCPS mission. Between April and August of 1995, the Head of School hired an excellent team of seven full-time classroom teachers, five part-time integrated arts teachers, and a business manager to begin the work. Time was short, but determination high, as this original group of educators met together during the summer of 1995 to plan the program and operations of a school that would welcome its first group of 137 students on August 27, 1995. The guiding principles included in the charter encouraged the original faculty, administration and staff to create an education program within the context of an active and committed learning community. The common goal was to connect the students’ innate desire to learn with a rich and challenging curriculum. The educators, parents, and the students realized the power of discovery and understood the important role formal education plays in one’s ability to learn and grow. They were excited to create an environment where all students would be motivated and supported in their learning. The charter envisioned a school that would assist students to achieve a high level of competency in basic skills, proficiency in critical thinking, proficiency in the use of technological tools, the ability to make informed judgments, the skill necessary to effectively communicate, the acquisition of a productive work ethic, and the ability to apply their school experience to complete authentic tasks in the real world. To achieve these goals, the Head of School coordinated a program in which the whole community could participate in the success of the school. First, he enlisted the energy and trusted the expertise of the faculty to create an education program that would ensure the academic success of all students. He clearly outlined the work expectations and charged the faculty to assume major responsibility in the development and delivery of the curriculum. Second, he enlisted the energy and support of the parents to assist in their children’s education. At MCCPS, parents and community members contribute their talents to school operations and programs. Third, all students were guided in the development of “Individual Learning Plans.” These plans serve to formally coordinate the students’ efforts with their teachers and parents to ensure the achievement of each student’s academic and personal goals. These tasks, begun in 1995, and deliberately developed over the next eight years, continue to challenge and inspire the MCCPS professional staff and school community to do what is in the best interest of the students. Today the school serves as a model of what is possible when educators, community members and students work together to achieve common goals. We have developed a coordinated school-wide academic program based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks using a thematic and integrated model of instruction. The faculty is committed to commonly planned, integrated units of study that provide students with the opportunity to authentically connect their studies to the world around them. Three times each year, the students participate in “Exhibitions” of student work where they publicly demonstrate what they know and are able to do. And, finally, a strong individual focus on basic skills ensures that all students have the opportunity to succeed as life-long learners. The success of our school is due to the combined and coordinated efforts of the entire community. Each participant plays an important role in both individual and collective success. Creating and running a successful school is as complex challenge. It takes the dedication, energy, expertise, and cooperation of many in order to succeed. The Marblehead Community Charter Public School welcomes the opportunity to share its history and program with the larger education community. We are a learning community open to innovation and willing to take risks in order to better serve our students. We have taken full advantage of the autonomy afforded us as a charter school to work swiftly and well in creating and maintaining a program not presently possible in the larger public school arena. In order to fully inform those who seek evidence of the success of the Marblehead Community Charter Public School, we provide the information included in this Web site. Enjoy!