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Alma @

Annual Report 2016

What’s it like to be five years old? It’s a question our kindergarten teachers take very seriously as they prepare to greet their young scholars each year. Every year we welcome 40 new five-year-olds. Each of our new scholars arrives at Alma with a unique personality, with things that excite them, or worry them, with things that they’re proud of and with ties to a larger community that’s shaped their life’s experience thus far. When you’re five you have a sense of where you come from, but you’ve still got a great sense of wonder and possibility. As a school that’s recently turned five, we too have begun to develop a distinct identity, are rooted in a larger community and have already achieved things of which we are proud. Like our scholars, we know we still have a long journey ahead and remain excited about our future. For Alma, as an organization, turning five in some ways marks our adolescence: we’ve moved beyond “startup mode,” have a track record of success and have begun to solidify the shared values of the adults in the building, as well as the key aspects of our model that sets us apart and drive our success. In these past five years, we’ve seen the success of our commitment to a school culture that is both high demand and high support. Likewise, we’ve seen our scholars thrive when our teachers combine the depth of learning expeditions with the tight structures, routines and instructional techniques of the most successful urban public schools. We’ve also seen how our “adult culture” makes us a truly exceptional place to work. We’re excited to share with you our “Crew Code” — a set of guiding principles that articulate how we work and what we value as educators.

Table of Contents Beginnings…......................................…..2 Growth….................................................6 Achievement…....................................10

In less than a year, Alma will add 8th grade and reach full capacity. But while we may be grown out soon, we will never be grown up. An important part of us will always be five.

Talent................................................14 Sustainability.......................................18

Board of Trustees Chris Arnold Mary Jean Blasdale Bronwen Cunningham Jan Baptist David Cabral Jeanne Eagle Gail Fortes Lucile (Cile) Hicks Martha Kay

Will Gardner, Executive Director and Founder Annual Report 2016

Bob Unger

In 2011, educators and community leaders began crafting the vision for Alma del Mar.

Alma @ 5:

Their goal was to create a game-changing school for New Bedford kids. At the time, local public schools were among the lowest-performing in the state. Our founding group knew that to truly change the trajectory for these kids, it would need to provide an education that matched the rigor and depth of the nation’s best schools. Led by a group of concerned moms, dubbed “The Parent Brigade,” Alma’s founding team opened New Bedford’s first K-8 charter school. “The vision was to give children the very best opportunity for learning,” Amanda Glinski, a member of “The Parent Brigade,” recalled. “That’s what I wanted for my son, and for all children.” Alma opened in August 2011 with the mission of putting every scholar on a college path. At the time, only two scholars were reading on grade level. Five years later, our scholars consistently outperform their local peers and compete academically with kids in surrounding suburbs. We received our first charter renewal last spring, passing a rigorous accountability


Annual Report 2016

process, which included exceeding the state’s expectations in the area of parent engagement. We’ve also become known for our strength in serving English language learners and for our unique academic model. Our scholars go beyond paper-based learning. We ensure they have experiences that prepare them for the world beyond school. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, scholars go on an average of 36 field work excursions and perform in 18 Expedition Nights during their time at Alma. By the time our scholars enter eighth grade, they will have visited nine college campuses. In the next five years we’ll send our first cohort to secondary school. We’ve ensured our scholars and families are prepared for life beyond Alma. A big part of that work is to slowly and carefully pull away all of the “scaffolds” in order to help younger scholars achieve. We are confident they will thrive and stay on a college track no matter where they go from here — be it a public, independent or parochial secondary school.


Our founding teachers built the groundwork for our scholars’ success.

Alma’s families have been the heart of our school since the beginning.

Faustina Depina Kindergarten Lead Teacher,

The tight-knit Alma family community began with heartfelt, honest discussions in living rooms and kitchens across the city. Many of our families continue to learn of Alma del Mar through word of mouth. They’re drawn to our unique culture, the uniforms, joyful learning and meaningful fieldwork experiences. Through that word-of-mouth recruiting — along with targeted outreach to highneed groups throughout the city — we consistently receive hundreds of applications for our admission lottery. In winter 2016, we received more than 480 applications, a four-year high. Due to the low number of open seats, we were only able to enroll 10 percent of applicants.

Founding Teacher

“I joined the Alma team because I wanted to be part of a community of dedicated and enthusiastic professionals — a new school with fresh ideas. I see this school as an institution that will set a firm foundation for its scholars. I love the energy behind the school. This school had the thought of putting kids on the path to college starting in kindergarten! I wanted to work for a school that already had the end game in mind.

Our school community was very small, so we had the opportunity to make personal connections with our scholars and their parents. The great thing about it is that the only element that has changed is the number of scholars attending the school — that personal connection still exists today. Being bilingual has given me the opportunity to assist scholars who are struggling with vocabulary acquisition and comprehension. I can make that connection by providing the word or concept in their native language.”

Joshua DaPonte

Our strong support of families and scholars makes Alma del Mar the most sought after elementary school in New Bedford. Currently, Alma del Mar has a waiting list of over 500 children. Our attrition (the percent of our scholars who leave Alma for another school or district) is currently around 4 percent — lower than that of similar schools in our local district (around 11 percent).

Founding Music Teacher

“I was drawn to Alma by an opportunity to work at a school where collaboration and close connection to the community were driving factors for scholar success. I was happy to work closely with a great group of teachers. In the first few weeks of school I was given the time and encouraged to observe my colleagues teach. These initial observations helped inform my own teaching and directly improved my music lessons. 3

Watching Alma del Mar grow has been a wonderful experience. We have become a bigger community, but also more streamlined and efficient at what we do. There is more teacher involvement and collaboration now than ever before. At Alma, every teacher goes that extra mile to give our scholars the most high quality education we can provide. If there is a scholar who is struggling teachers will consult with every member of their teaching team to find a solution to help that scholar succeed.” Annual Report 2016

In our families’ words

Alma del Mar conducts a survey twice a year to determine family engagement and gather input from families. The most recent survey, conducted in June 2016, had an 88% response rate and indicated families feel they have a strong relationship with their child’s teacher and the school.


of Alma parents believe that Alma has high expectations for their scholar.


of Alma parents agree that their scholar is learning what he or she needs to know to be on the path to college.


of Alma parents agree that they feel welcome at Alma del Mar.


of Alma parents would recommend Alma to other families.

My son’s teachers have made great efforts, using a variety of strategies and staying after school as needed so that he can truly grasp the course material. I am grateful for all their hard work. -Alma parent


Alma @ 5:

We’ve built a new home worthy of our hard-working scholars. For five years, Alma’s staff and scholars made their home in a surplussed 100-year-old school building. When we opened our doors this fall, we welcomed 320 scholars into a new school hat reflects the high standards we hold for ourselves, and the sense of pride our families. It took a mere 11 months for our construction to complete our new building, ensuring our scholars were able to begin the new school year on time and in their new digs. With their expertise, we’ve built a professional learning space for our scholars to discover and achieve in; a space filled with natural light and bright colors, joyful learning and deep exploration. There are no bells or whistles in the design of our new school. Instead, we’ve kept the focus on the incredible work of our master poets and mathematicians. It’s a home worthy of the high-quality work our scholars do every day. Our new building will allow us to comfortably expand our current enrollment to encompass our full K-8 grade span next year. We will also be able to host school-wide events like our twice-annual Expedition Nights, which offer scholars the opportunity to showcase their work and teach parents and community members about what they have learned.


Annual Report 2016

In early December the steel was delivered and Alma celebrated with a beam signing to allow all scholars, staff and families the chance to put their name on a piece of the new building.


Small group rooms for individualized learning

Professional offices for teachers

Our new staff rooms provide a quiet, communal space for teachers and specialists to step away from the classroom in order to plan a lesson or re-read a portion of a text before teaching it to their class. These rooms have also made it easier for collaboration between teachers at different grade levels — allowing them to ask the tough questions and offer real insight among themselves. “It’s nice to have a space to take care of tasks and plan ahead without distracting scholars in their classroom.” - Shaun Lowry, Second Grade Associate Teacher since 2013

Our new home features a total of seven small group rooms, specially designed so teachers can meet with small groups in close proximity of the main classroom. The small group rooms provide a space for our scholars to feel comfortable and confident as they focus on a specific skill, whether it be writing, reading, or math. “The scholars feel more relaxed and focused. They act just like they were in their classroom with a smaller group of their peers.” - Rosemarie Szulc, Math Interventionist since 2012

A college-style community room

A studio for young artists “We’ve always taken great care in making our space, wherever it was, have that art room vibe that was conducive for imagination and creativity. This new space isn’t just an art classroom, it’s an art studio. I’m really excited about where our scholars will grow from here. Their work has always blown me away and I can’t wait to see how they’ll open up in this space that is theirs, that feels real and permanent.” - Kate Frazer Rego, Art Teacher since 2012

Our Community Room was designed to bring together large groups of scholars for presentations by guest experts, often as part of expedition work. On the first day of school, Alma’s lead cohort used the space to discuss the expectations and responsibilities of being in the seventh grade. “As founders and leaders in the school we wanted to emphasize the importance of them acting as role models to the younger scholars and we thought that using this new Community Room space would be a meaningful way to kick off the year.” - Kaitlin Goldrick, Academic Dean and Seventh Grade Lead teacher since August 2016

Bright, joy-filled classrooms

An open gym for movement and imagination

All our scholars are under one roof for the first time since we added modular classrooms in 2013. “The windows, the sunlight and the bright colors all contribute to this feeling of a more joyful environment for our scholars. Aside from the things we do as teachers to make our classrooms warm and inviting, you can tell these rooms are meant for serious learning and a little bit of fun, too.” - Jessica Summers, Third Grade Teacher since August 2012 7

Annual Report 2016

“The new gym provides an open, clean and functional space for scholars to safely exercise and play together as a team. The skylights in the gym let in so much natural light which illuminates the scholars’ smiles as they are having fun and learning about skills their bodies are able to perform!” - Bethany Brown, Physical Education Teacher since August 2011


Our scholars achieve at high levels whether they started with Alma on day one, or in year five.

Alma @ 5:

Leo Wilkinson

Entered Alma: Aug. 2015

“What I really like about going to Alma del Mar is that I’ve been able to succeed here. The teachers have really helped me focus in the classroom. They make me feel like I can do anything as long as I keep trying. When I first started at Alma I had a hard time focusing and really struggled. I got a 66 on my first math exam. My

Class of 2027 (6th grade)

teachers kept working with me and always helped me and encouraged me to try again when I was stuck. For my second math exam I got a 96, and I got on honor roll the last three quarters of the year. I think I want to go to GNB Voc-Tech and learn more about engineering, then go to UMass Dartmouth for science and engineering.”

Cayla Rivera

Entered Alma: Aug. 2011

“I started at Alma in second grade and I remember my teacher made learning fun for us. She would teach us things through song and made sure there was a lot of active learning. I actually didn’t like literacy back then — I enjoyed reading but I wasn’t a writer, it didn’t really make sense to me. By fifth grade the writing part really clicked for me. My teacher found a new


Annual Report 2016

Class of 2026 (7th grade)

way to help me understand how to go about writing about something I had learned about, like a habitat or a historical event. Alma has prepared me for high school and college by challenging me every single day. I’m interested in going to college for business management so I can open my own bakery. I love baking and decorating cakes!”


In five years we’ve created a game-changing school for hundreds of New Bedford kids. We’ve found that the longer scholars attend Alma, the higher they achieve. Alma sixth graders were the highest performing sixth graders in the city on the latest state PARCC tests. After five years at Alma, our lead cohort is demonstrating the strength of a content-rich education.

Alma is an inclusive school with a commitment to ensuring every single scholar succeeds. The most recent state data shows that scholars with high needs perform better at Alma than they would if they were at a traditional district school.

New Bedford kids can achieve at the same level as kids anywhere.

Our ELL and former ELL scholars passed the PARCC tests at nearly twice the rate of their local peers.

Scholar Ethnicity

Alma’s Latino scholars are in the 90th based on state performance measures.

percentile for ELA statewide,

Demographics & Achievement


According to state performance measures, growth among our scholars with high needs was in the 81st percentile in ELA.



60 55

Local & State Achievement

Alma del Mar



%Met/Exceed Expectation

60 55







0.4 0.7

2015 State Average*

45 40

Hispanic White

*Massachusetts did not calculate a statewide average in 2016 due to shifts in state testing

35 30




African American

Native American




60 Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander

New Bedford 55

40 35








3rd-6th Grade Achievement Level*

Alma is a public school, open to all children in New Bedford. There are no admissions tests or fees. Scholars come from all parts of the city to attend our school. They represent the city’s racial and socioeconomic diversity.


% Economically Disadvantaged *Combined average percent scores proficient and advanced on 2015-2016 ELA and Math PARCC

We’re breaking the link between poverty and low achievement. Through their own incredible work, our scholars are proving that effort determines success, not innate ability, luck, zip code, or family background.

ELA Math Scores represent combined proficiency level of scholars in grades 3 to 6

Annual Report 2016


We’re focused on creating a rich ecosystem for our kind of teachers to thrive.

Alma @ 5:

Alexa Teevens

Role: Third Grade Lead Teacher & Literacy Department Co-Chair Started at Alma: July 2015, as a Literacy Specialist

“I worked at a few other urban charter schools before coming to Alma. When I arrived, Will said that he hoped I found my “Goldilocks school” — a school that was not too prescriptive and not too structureless, but just right. That has truly been my experience here, and I’m so excited to continue to refine both our strong school culture and engaging, content-rich curriculum. As Alma’s Literacy Specialist I’ve had the opportunity to work with teams across grade levels. I have a unique lens for what’s happening across the school, and I’ve been able to support teachers in strengthening the vertical integration of literacy content across grades.


Annual Report 2016

I also get to watch some of our best teachers every day, and I’ve learned more about creating highly effective culture and instruction by being in their classrooms than I had in countless hours of professional development. I’m very excited to join the Curriculum Team as the co-chair of the Literacy Department this year. As we make shifts in our curriculum, away from skills-based literacy instruction to putting content first, I’m excited to step into the classroom and create and implement my own revised curriculum to best prepare myself to support other teachers in making this shift.”


15 Annual Report 2016 16

We recognize that the single strongest drive of scholar achievement is teacher quality. Alma recruits the best teachers from across the country, and we commit our resources to developing them to become extraordinary. As we’ve become more established as a school, we are eager to share our best practices and collaborate with other schools.

candidates for 10 open positions

of Alma teachers are people of color (three times the percentage in the local district)

advanced degrees completed

colleges across 14 states

25 13 30%

teachers and specialists with a collective 170 years of experience

1,000 34

Alma’s crew at a glance

7. Crew We create and maintain relationships by investing in them early and often through face-to-face interaction. Having a diverse crew with a range of perspectives, backgrounds and communication skills creates effective educators and problem solvers.

We see difficult problems as opportunities to increase capacity and expand capabilities. Like the best competitors, we’re intense in a way that contributes to, rather than detracts from, our crew’s performance.

6. Challenge, Challenge

At Alma, there are no passengers, only crew. We take pride in Alma, our work and the role we play transforming the lives of our scholars. Teachers have the autonomy to be creative and make decisions for their scholars on a day-to-day basis.

5. It’s Your Ship

Our ability to deliver great lessons, maintain emotional consistency and express creativity is dependent on staying mentally and physically fit. To succeed over the long term, we need to build and maintain the kind of habits and culture that allow for the renewal and sustainability of our energy.

4. Oxygen Mask

3. Content is King We believe great teachers help scholars access great content. We don’t wait until the later grades to teach subjects like science and social studies. Whenever possible, we “nerd out” about content, igniting our own curiosity so our scholars get fired up as well.

We maintain the highest possible bar for all of our scholars every day. We provide smart supports for each scholar to reach that high bar. We’re careful not to provide more support than a scholar needs, which would rob them of the opportunity to do hard work on their own.

2. High Demand, High Support

The purpose behind everything we do is to put each of our scholars on the path to college while challenging them to be service-minded leaders. Our scholars must be able to produce jaw-droppingly good work and learn strong habits of work and character.

1. Show Me the Outcomes

At Alma, our teachers’ work is often complex and highly interpersonal. It’s also creative and performative. We must make sure we are creating an environment in which creative people can thrive while doing this work. Because when our teachers thrive, our scholars thrive. It’s this notion that leads us to our Crew Code — a set of guiding principles focusing on our staff’s behaviors and beliefs that contribute to the culture at Alma del Mar.

The Crew Code: How Alma teachers work

Building on Success: Capital Campaign Supporters

Alma @ 5:

Acushnet Foundation Jonas Peter Akins Amelia Peabody Foundation Anonymous Chris & Trish Arnold Dr. Tucker & Terry Aufranc Talbot Baker Jr. Michael and Margie Baldwin Chris & Veronique Bale Jan Baptist Steve & Sallie Barker Larry & Barbara Bedell Kate Carpenter Bernier Jim Bevilacqua & Connie Bacon Bill & Mary Jean Blasdale Robert Booth & Bronwen Cunningham John & Nancy Braitmayer James & Melissa Bride Bristol County Savings Bank Foundation Chad Brubaker & Lean Camara Joyce Louise Calnen Ben & Karyn Campbell Scott Chappel & Isabelle Stillger Carney Family Charitable Foundation BayCoast Bank COMPASS Project


Annual Report 2016

Management Sheila Powers Converse Barbara Cook Crane Foundation Inc. Dwight & Loretto Crane David & Victoria Croll Bob & Vickie Cunningham Deborah L Daigle James & Carol Dildine Allan & Priscilla Ditchfield Breck & Jeanne Eagle William & Deborah Elfers Roy & Arline Enoksen R.S. Evans Foundation Annette Ewing Frank & Nancy Fletcher James Forrest & Joanna Ross Andre Gardner George H. & Jane A. Mifflin Memorial Fund Ed & Barbara Haddad Ernest M. Haddad John Henderson & Anne Tinker Lucile P. Hicks Jim & Bess Hughes IBM Corporation Dennis Keefe Lucy Keefe Ray & Helen Killian Stephen Kokkins

Rachael Kolb Ted & Nancy Kurtz Bob & Linda Lane Michael & Sarah Lemelin Louis Calder Foundation Ludcke Foundation Lynch Foundation John Menzel Fanny T. Milligan Drew & Lynne Nahigyan Blaine & Claire O’Connell Lawrence & Charlotte Oliveira Orville W. Forte Charitable Foundation John Pannell Perry V. Haines Foundation Frank & Barbara Resnek Peter & Jane Rioux Robert & Bonnie Stapleton Steven & Martha Cary Shuster Sidney A Swensrud Foundation Randolph & Nancy Stainer Don & Jan Stewart Margot Stone Strategic Grant Partners Jim & Kris Tomlinson Bob Unger Maryanne Waldman Happy & Henley Webb Hans & Ann Ziegler


2015-2016 Annual Fund Supporters This generosity does not include the thousands of volunteer hours and direct classroom in-kind donations. Thank you to everyone who has supported Alma in ways both big and small.

$20,000+ Jim & Bess Hughes Fund Leonard & Hilda Kaplan Charitable Foundation The Ludcke Foundation George H. & Jane A. Mifflin Memorial Fund $10,000+ Acushnet Foundation David & Victoria Croll JB Fernandes Memorial Trust I Lucile P. Hicks $5,000+ Chris & Trish Arnold Carney Family Charitable Foundation Orville W. Forte Charitable Foundation Herb & Charlotte Wagner $1,000+ Dr. Tucker & Terry Aufranc Charles & Christina Bascom Mary Jean & Bill Blasdale Mark Bono & Elizabeth Gilbert-Bono Robert Booth & Bronwen Cunningham John & Nancy Braitmayer

Advisory Council Members 19

Karen Burnett-Kurie Alvan Carr Allan & Priscilla Ditchfield Jeanne & Breck Eagle William & Deborah Elfers Mary & Jim Faughnan Kenneth & Mildred S. Gammons Charitable Foundation Elizabeth Chapin & John Grummon Ed & Barbara Haddad The Harbor Oaks Foundation Brian & Robin Hicks Heidi & Arthur Huguley Lucy Keefe Ludes Family Foundation Club Madeirense S.S. Sacramento Charitable Foundation Joseph & Holly McDonough Drew & Lynne Nahigyan Susan Paladino Olive Higgins Prouty Foundation Norman & Maryellen Shachoy St. Aidan’s Chapel Sustainable SouthCoast/11th Hour Fund

Up to $999 Jonas Peter Akins Jane Marie Albright Jason Almeida Amazon Chase & Nicole Arnold Bethel A.M.E. Church Boutique Fitness, INC. Jan Baptist Sallie & Steve Barker Nate Bekemeier Nan & Bill Braucher Peter & Tia Bullard Laura Burnett-Kurie Joyce Louise Calnen Mrs. Carleton Burr John & Elizabeth Cannell Edward Carson Charles & Kathy Carter Roger & Jane Cheever Kittansett Club Mary & Sackett Cook Deborah L. Daigle Steven & Cathy DeRossi Emily Condon Design DetailSandGoods Inc Kathryn Dinneen Matt & Dee Downey Timothy Dyer Arline & Roy Enoksen Laura Farnham Fiber Optic Center Inc Flora and Foglia, INC French Toast

Andre Gardner Will & Laura Gardner Seth & Dorothy Garfield Guillermo Gonzalez Marguerite Graham Marjorie Greville Alicia Hamblett Maria & David Harrington Haverhill Inc Prentiss & Polly Higgins Horse & Bear Jonathan & Elizabeth Howland Will Hutchinson Nan Johnson Dennis Keefe David & Marsha Kelley Trudy Kingery Robert Kramer Ted & Nancy Kurtz Linda Ann Lacroix Barry & Sherry Leiwant Ted Lorentzen Daniel & Beverly Machado Katie Mannix Jane & Bill McCarthy Michael & Jane McHenry David & Donna Medeiros Kathy & Derek Melven George & Elise Mock Richard & Faith Morningstar

Ives Nathan Not Your Average Joe’s Carolyn Nunez Blaine & Claire O’Connell Charles Platt David Prentiss & Lucy Iannotti Sascha & Chris Proudlove Shirley Ramos-Magnett Cynthia Redel & Michael Esposito Scott & Anne Robertson Vernon Rodenborg Anthony R Sapienza Steven & Martha Shuster Mason & Jean Smith Margot Stone Paul Sullivan Bill & June Swanson Target Elliott & Antra Thrasher Three Islands Susan Towner Alexa Teevens Bob Unger & Barbara LeBlanc Maryanne Waldman Peter & Asha Wallace Jay & Mimi Whalen Whitney Prints Deryal & Yesim Yuksel Tony & Eusie Zane

Nelson Abreu Chad Brubaker John Camera Karyn Campbell Barbara Cook

James Dildine Priscilla Ditchfield David Eckert Ed Haddad Jim Hughes Dennis Keefe

Jay Lanagan Judith Li Rob Massoud Carolyn Nunez David Prentiss Mark Rasmussen

Ralf Rho Maria Rosario Anthony Sapienza Susan Skawinski Annual Report 2016

Profit & Loss

Balance Sheet

July 2015-June 2016

As of June 30, 2016

Assets Cash and Cash Equivalents Accounts Receivable Prepaid Expenses Due from Related Parties Fixed Assets TOTAL ASSETS

7,908,561 78,765 29,778 469,298 21,110,291 29,596,693

Current Liabilities Accounts Payable Accrued Expenses/Accrued Payroll Due to related parties Long-term debt TOTAL LIABILITIES

1,434,557 246,756 45,787 23,676,851 25,403,951

Current Equity Invested in capital assets (net of related debt) Temporarily restricted Unrestricted TOTAL EQUITY TOTAL LIABILITIES & EQUITY

39,464 856,208 3,297,070 4,192,742 29,596,693

Income Tuition Government Grants & Funding Nutrition Funding Private Support Funding Student Programs & Misc. Income Interest / Investment Income TOTAL INCOME

3,425,368 257,462 175,129 497,763 141 609 4,356,472

Expenditures Personnel Costs Administration Costs Instructional Services Other Student Services Operation & Maint of Plant Other Fixed Charges Community Services TOTAL EXPENSE

2,321,967 237,598 499,584 357,969 220,525 118,885 9,510 3,766,038



FY15-16 Expenditures

Instruction - 62%

Student Services - 9%

Administration - 20%

Facility and Other Fixed Costs - 9%


No report can convey the incredible teaching and learning that happens in our school each day.

Please visit us, ask questions, and get involved.

515 Belleville Ave. | New Bedford, MA 02746 | 774.206.6827 /almadelmarcharterschool @AlmaCharter @AlmaCharter

Alma del Mar Annual Report 2016  
Alma del Mar Annual Report 2016