Visit To Match Community Day
After nearly two years of exchanging ideas via email and the phone, I at last had the chance to spend the day with the team at Match Charter School in Boston. Started about 15 years ago by Mike Goldstein, Match is a k-12 school that has among the best academic outcomes in a state (o.k., Commonweath) that has among the highest performing charter schools in the country. No small feat. Match also runs a grad school.
Mike has moved on to Kenya where he's helping to create a low-cost school model that addresses the crying need for better outcomes in some of Africa's most populous nations. But a guy with this kind of ambition attracts equally high performing followers and the energy and commitment at Match remain strong, even if Mike is thousands of miles away.
Mike's vision for Match was to become a laboratory for innovation. One signature of this approach is the Match Tutor Corps, a group of recent college grads who spend a year assisting teachers at the school in providing high dosage tutoring to students, allowing the school to achieve 3:1 student:adult ratios during parts of the instructional day.
At ICS we plan to partner with organizations serving seniors in Brooklyn to a similar end. Apart from helping out students develop their reading skills, we expect the seniors can teach our kids the importance of respect for their elders, and perhaps a bit about the history of our community.
Another signature of Match's approach is to accept that sometimes your ideas don't work out. Despite their high academic results, Match recognized that initially they did not focus too much energy on curriculum. Leaving lesson planning to their teachers.
More recently they have hired a chief academic officer and creating a curriculum design team. So it's nice to see that with our focus on curriculum planning that ICS is starting in the spot where a more experienced team is moving.
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Lastly, Match understands that kids need to have fun. And that after a long week of hard work, 30 minutes of dodge ball, with lots of loud voices and running around, is just what the doctor ordered. (And despite the cold weather, another set of kids was outside playing touch football!)