Creating a school community

To write Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice, Sam Chaltain spent a year following two Washington D.C. schools, Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School and Bancroft Elementary School.

In both the charter and the district school, “he found caring teachers and administrators in vibrant schools who struggle to meet new standards with little guidance and at times little support,” reports the Washington Post.

Not everything can be measured, writes Chaltain. However, it’s “just as it is true that there are ways to measure aspects of teaching and learning that go a lot deeper than basic-skills test scores.”

My book about Downtown College Prep, a San Jose charter high school, also is titled Our School. Last week, I went to DCP’s 10th commencement ceremony, which honored both the class of 2014 and the pioneer class of 2004.

DCP, which has added two middle schools and a second high school campus, now has an alumni association and an alumni seat on the board. Graduates are raising scholarship money. When students visit California universities, they can talk to DCP graduates who are students there. Some DCP graduates have returned as teachers.

In low-income, Latino immigrant communities, DCP has made college-going the “new normal,” said Jennifer Andaluz, DCP’s co-founder and executive director.

About Joanne


  1. PhillipMarlowe says:

    Sounds like your Catholic high school. Here in the DC area, we have several who have developed this community, with some getting recognition outside the area:
    Georgetown Prep (boys)
    Georgetown Visitation (girls)
    DeMatha Catholic High School.
    Quite often, wearing DeMatha apparel around the country and the world gets questions.

  2. PhillipMarlowe says:

    A DeMatha graduate is on his way to being ordained a priest.
    He had this to say about his time with the DeMatha community:
    Then at DeMatha, he (Tim) played baseball and soccer and worked on the school newspaper, and was inspired by the example of the lay teachers there, who, he said, “treated their teaching as a service, as a vocation. It wasn’t just a job. They cared for their students and challenged us. Everyone is striving for excellence there.”