Hyde Leadership Charter High School
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Very involved parents and a focus on character growth
Few seats for students who don't attend Hyde Leadership Middle School
Hyde Leadership insists on strong commitment from everyone, including parents, who receive their own report cards and "graduate" alongside their children.
The school is modeled after a private boarding school in Bath, Maine, that is dedicated to character development. Hyde emphasizes the importance of personal growth through frank conversations, self-assessments and reflection.
"I'm a deep believer that young people chart their own course," said Executive Director Tom Sturtevant, a former high school teacher and principal. He came to Hyde in 2014 from the SEED foundation in Washington DC, an organization that works with urban boarding schools.
Parents are required to attend monthly meetings where they reflect on questions like, "What kind of a 6th grader was I?" or "How involved were my parents in my education?" Some new families find these expectations a little intimidating.
In the lower grades, there are strict behavioral expectations. Signs in classrooms list "non-negotiable rules," including staying in your seat unless you have permission to move, sitting up straight and keeping your eyes on the speaker. Students are sent home for infractions of the school uniform code such as not wearing a belt.
Originally opened as a k-8 school, Hyde expanded to high school in 2011. The high school is located in a shiny new building, a few blocks from the lower school. The building is light and welcoming, with comfy corners for students to gather.
Students are encouraged to speak up about challenges, and can request a "conference" with staff at any time. High school teachers have "office hours" every afternoon from 3 to 4 pm. All 9th-graders go on an overnight retreat, sometimes to the boarding school on which Hyde Leadership was modeled.
Every child in grades k-8 must pass through metal detectors to enter the building, shared with Hunts Point Middle School. Some classes are in windowless basement rooms, and space is tight.
There is a well-organized college office, with several counselors who ensure all students apply to college. Around 95 percent of Hyde graduates go on to college, both locally and to schools in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Virginia.
Special education: Almost one-quarter of the students have IEPs (individualized education programs). Staff meet with parents of children with IEPs to get to know each student's needs. For example, a student could have a paraprofessional, or aide, alongside a completely individualized schedule. The school has ICT team-teaching classes on every grade.
Admissions: Admission is by lottery, with priority for siblings and residents of District 8. There is a long waitlist. Roughly 90 percent of middle school students continue to Hyde Leadership High School. About five new students are accepted in each grade, said Robert Rodner, director of operations. No new students are admitted after 9th grade. (Lydie Raschka, interview and web reports, February 2019)