Upper School Challenge
In 2013, we launched the Upper School Challenge, a campaign to support the new Innovation Agenda of the Cambridge Public School Department that has created 4 “upper schools” (grades 6–8). Previously, students stayed in the same school from K-8. These new upper schools are designed to focus attention, resources, and out-of-school activities on middle-grade students, in order to support their academic learning and the personal growth of each child.
With the help of our donors, CSV has opened five new Learning Centers, one in each of the four new upper schools, plus one at the Amigos School/Escuela Amigos. These centers serve students before and after school. All Learning Centers provide free, individual tutoring to students identified by their teachers as needing support. Establishing effective and consistent tutoring and mentoring experiences in each school has been a challenge in the first few years of the restructured school system. We have required more resources than usual to build these successful programs over the past several years.
In addition to the Learning Centers, CSV is committed to providing a NetPal STEM mentorship for every student during seventh grade. (Read about NetPals in the Cambridge Chronicle.) In this program, mentors from local companies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields work with students one-to-one, through frequent email communications as well as face-to-face events. Our NetPals program is currently in three of the four upper schools: Cambridge Street Upper School, Rindge Avenue Upper School, and Putnam Avenue Upper School. We are actively seeking corporate partners to expand NetPals to the remaining schools—Amigos School/Escuela Amigos and Vassal Lane Upper School—over the next few years. We are pledged to provide every Cambridge Public School seventh-grader with a STEM mentor through the program.