A Decade of Alma: 2021 Annual Report

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20 21 Annual Report

A Decade of Alma


Maintaining a Growth Mindset

Looking back on the first decade of Alma, we’re proud of the way we’ve never stood still as an organization. We had a strong school program from the start, got good results for kids, and families were by and large happy with what we had to offer. But as we expanded — first to one full school and then to two — we didn’t rest on our laurels or pretend like we were done improving. We maintained the same growth mindset that we cultivate in our scholars. As we’ve grown the Frederick Douglass Campus, we’ve brought on a number of new leaders and staff. Our staff size has more than tripled since our opening, and these new members of our crew have taken up tools and practices developed by others here before them and made them their own. Town Hall celebrations of today include cheers and chants made up by founding teachers a decade ago. At the same time, our new staff are unafraid to add new songs and traditions to the mix and even throw out the old stuff when it no longer serves the moment.

a Decade of

Serving New Bedford .....................................................................................................1 Preparing Future Leaders ...............................................................................................3 Strong Academics .........................................................................................................5 Developing Incredible Educators..................................................................................7 Almazing Fund ...............................................................................................................9

As we began planning for the 2021-2022 school year, and after many deep discussions with our families, students, staff, and board members, it became clear that we would need to do some things differently in order to fully provide for the needs of our community. Thankfully, adaptability and innovation are part of our DNA. This continual evolution is driven by our scholars as well. In many of our expeditions, current scholars use exemplary work by their predecessors as a model for a final product that they’re working toward. We often have to retire our previous exemplars because the work of the latest cohort has raised the bar for a particular project. Our brilliant scholars and educators continue to make this place into something far more effective, vibrant and compelling than anything the group of us who were here a decade ago could have imagined. Thank you for joining us on this ever-changing journey. Here’s to the next decade.

Promoting Equity ....................................................................................................... 11

Looking back on the first decade of

Growth ........................................................................................................................ 13

Alma, we’re proud of the way we’ve

Financial Report ......................................................................................................... 14 Our Supporters & Volunteer Committees ................................................................... 15

never stood still as an organization. Executive Director

Board Chair

a Decade of

SERVING NEW BEDFORD For ten years, New Bedford families from all corners of the city have chosen Alma del Mar for their children’s education. Alma scholars represent the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the city:






84 74

ALMA DEL MAR Black, 14% Hispanic, 61% White, 21% Multi-Race, 4%

NEW BEDFORD Black, 14% Hispanic, 42% White, 38% Multi-Race, 5%

% of Population


60 40


44 42 31


20 0


First Language Not English

English Language Learners

Rich Emken and his wife, Kristin, have been a part of the Alma community since the very beginning, when their young daughter Ava was selected as part of our Founding Second Grade Class in 2011. A few years ago, Rich created a youth basketball league that was free and open to middle school girls looking to gain experience and confidence in the sport. In just two years, the league grew from one weekly clinic for eight girls, to more than a dozen clinics for 350 girls.


Students with Disabilities

High Needs

Economically Disadvantaged

“The league was growing and we needed space, but we didn’t have the resources to pay for court time since we were offering these clinics free of charge. I came to Alma with a whole speech prepared for Mr. Gardner, but a minute into it he just stopped me and said, ‘Whatever you need, we’ll help. If you need court time, you’ve got it. If you need help planning or getting the word out, we’re here to help.’

“Alma does an awesome job of representing the face of New Bedford as a whole. You look at Alma, you see what New Bedford is. It’s home.”

Then, without even being asked, Mr. Gardner tells me he wants this to be not just for Alma scholars but for the neighborhood and the entire community. He didn’t have to say that, but he wanted to make sure it was available to everyone. That spoke highly of what he thinks Alma’s responsibility is as far as being part of the New Bedford community.”

- Ross Fernandez, Alma Parent and New Bedford Firefighter 1

Annual Report 2021



a Decade of Nearly 1000 New

Members of Alma’s first

Each year, more than

Bedford children

graduating class are

500 children apply

have been educated

in their senior year of

for Alma’s enrollment

at Alma

high school..



Elena A.

Alma prepares kids at an early age for a successful experience in high school, in college, and beyond, by

Class of 2029 | Member of Alma’s 9 Year Club

teaching them about a strong work ethic. Alma engrains those aspirations in every single scholar.

166 scholars have graduated from

Alma del Mar’s 8th grade. 43 alumni are a part

of Alma’s 9 Year Club meaning they attended Alma for all nine years

from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade!


Alma alumni are attending one of 15 different secondary schools across the region. Our graduates have been able to take advantage of a wider array of secondary school options as a result of their preparation.

I remember being so nervous to meet new people on the first day of kindergarten, but I was also excited. I felt welcomed right when I stepped in the building. Yes, I had to learn a lot and grow because I couldn’t write as well and couldn’t talk as well as others which made me not as confident in myself, but I was able to get help for that which helped me become the person I am today. In my time here, I was able to build meaningful relationships with teachers and my classmates.

45% of Alma’s

graduates have

younger siblings

Yelena G.

enrolled at Alma.

Class of 2029

Nearly 200 New

Alma del Mar is truly an amazing school, and I had a good experience here. We worked very hard as a team and independently to get to where we are today. Look at all of us graduating after working so hard! Being part of this class was an honor and I thank you guys for having me as a classmate and scholar.

Bedford families

have enrolled more than one child at Alma.

Annual Report 2021




a Decade of


Alma has become known locally for our strong academic program and, statewide, as a model of a public school that is both inclusive and high performing. In the past, we’ve boasted the high achievements of our scholars on standardized tests and the immense growth they’ve demonstrated year over year. The 2020-21 school year was marked by significant disruption in nearly all aspects of life, including in education. At Alma, our teachers, school staff, families and scholars all worked incredibly hard to support one another amidst the challenges. We helped families get internet access, distributed hundreds of chromebooks and reading materials, and together we navigated a completely new way of teaching and learning.


Providing heavy coaching

targeted intervention

vertical alignment

and data analysis to

daily to support them

of Singapore Math

in accessing grade level

curriculum across



ensure scholars enter middle school with strong foundational reading skills

We are focused on high quality, accelerated instruction because we know that all of our scholars are capable of achieving at high levels

Despite the many disruptions, Alma teachers found ways to keep getting great books in the hands of their scholars, and that shows in the only slight decrease in ELA passing scores compared to previous years. This is an indication that Alma’s years of strong, content-focused reading instruction, using high-quality literature, have led to enduring gains in reading.

and that all of them deserve to be doing complex, meaningful work. -Alexa Teevens, Alma’s Director of Curriculum & Instruction

We continue to have high expectations for all scholars and are committed to providing them each with the support they need to succeed. As such, this year, we have intentionally designed our program to provide our scholars with instruction that will drive academic acceleration, including the strategies highlighted on the following page. 5

Every scholar receives

Annual Report 2021



a Decade of

Lourdes Gonzalez


Current First Grade Lead Teacher and Founding Office Manager

I love our community and I’m proud to have been a part of this team for ten years. I call Alma my second home. This is my family. There have been challenges, of course, but there have been so many more incredible moments and big wins for our scholars and our staff. I believe in our mission, and I know my team believes in me, and that’s why I’m still here.

Nathalie Concepcion

Current Secondary Schools Guidance Counselor and Founding Associate Teacher I’m so proud that I’ve been a part of graduating four eighth grade classes and supporting them in high school… It’s really special being a K-8 school because you get to see these children on their first day of kindergarten, and watch them grow and achieve great things on their way to graduating from eighth grade. In my role, I got to teach some of these scholars when they were younger and then work with them again as they were applying for high schools. It’s been great to see them develop as mathematicians, as writers, as advocates.


Rebecca Cotugno

Current Literacy Specialist and Founding Kindergarten Lead Teacher At Alma, you have a lot of opportunities to do different things and to be in different roles. I went from being a Dean, so in a leadership role, to actually stepping back into a specialist role. You can’t do that just anywhere because at some schools, you move up and that’s it. At Alma, you can go whichever way and do whichever thing feels best and right for you. I know I can always go back, I can always grow. I know I have that opportunity here.

Annual Report 2021



Alma Educators Go the Distance to Expand their Knowledge

Alma’s strong staff culture has attracted top talent, both locally and state-wide, over the past ten years. This has fueled the success of our model, which is built on the premise of hiring strong, creative educators and empowering them to do what’s right by scholars and families.

At Alma, we invest in our teachers not only as educators, but also as lifelong learners. We enable our teachers to look beyond the typical professional development opportunities and actually explore.

beaches, but it also has some of the most varied, offering green sand beaches, black sand beaches, and even the more rare white sand beaches. Big Island was an amazing place for a middle school science teacher to experience sky, land, and water, and bring what she learned back to the Alma classroom to connect to many areas of the 5th through 8th grade science content.

These adventures, called Almazing Fund trips, are funded entirely by a donor-supported effort to give Alma’s incredible educators the chance to experience the world around them and how it relates to their curriculum. They not only deepen the grantee’s understanding of the curriculum they teach but also fuel their passion for the content.


This summer, Alisia Cabral ­— a middle school science teacher at Alma — embarked on a once in a lifetime trip to Hilo, Hawaii. Also known as Big Island, Hilo was an opportunity for Alisia to immerse herself in some of the most incredible experiences the sky, land, and water have to offer.

Nantucket, MA New York City, NY

Hilo is home to the ‘Imilo Astronomy Center, which aims to build a bridge between science and culture through the stars and the mountain of Maunakea, where the world’s greatest collection of astronomical observatories is housed.

Yosemite (CA)

Philadelphia, PA

Glacier (MT)

Washington, DC

Grand Teton (WY)

Wabasha, MN Mt Rushmore, SD New Orleans, LA Jackson, MS

In addition to the sky, the land features of Big Island are some of the most interesting in the world. It is home to Kilauea - the most active volcano on earth - and the Nanawale Rainforest - a lush, tropical landscape in the Eastern Rift Zone. And, not only does Big Island offer up some of Hawaii’s best 7

National Parks

Montgomery, AL Atlanta, GA Big Island, HI

Annual Report 2021


International Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

London, England Paris, France Quito, Ecuador Hamilton, Bermuda

The trip helped me inspire my scholars. They especially love when I teach something I have personally witnessed or experienced. Science is happening all around them at any given time, and that it goes beyond the articles we read. - Alisia Cabral 8

a Decade of

PROMOTING EQUITY Alma del Mar was born out of work among educators, families and community leaders in New Bedford who sought to create a new kind of school for kids here, one that drew on the rich history and culture of New Bedford in creating educational opportunity. We founded Alma with the express purpose of providing marginalized students in New Bedford with access to an education on par with the best public and private schools in the state.

from all backgrounds, particularly Latinx and Black scholars, thrive. In order to thrive, we must create the environment and culture needed to honor and support both identity formation and academic achievement. We actively work to develop and maintain school environments where all scholars are actively and meaningfully engaged in rigorous instruction and immersed in rich experiences that positively contribute to their identity formation.

Why Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Matters

Our vision was and is that in developing their own unique talents, our scholars will be equipped not only to succeed as individuals but to collectively transform our community and the world beyond it. At the heart of our mission is the belief that every one of our scholars is capable of bold thinking and service-minded leadership. Over the past ten years, we have made significant progress in this mission. Still, there is much work to be done. This past year, we prioritized equipping Alma teachers with the tools to create culturally responsive and affirming spaces in which all scholars stand firmly in their unique identities and thrive academically: Alma must be a place in which scholars 11

As a school system entrusted with the learning and development of a diverse group As a school system entrusted with the learning and development of a diverse group of children from across the New Bedford landscape, we play an important role in envisioning and providing an educational experience that dismantles institutional racism and empowers students, families, and staff of all backgrounds to reach their potential.

Being an EL Education school, we take a multidimensional view of scholar achievement, which involves mastery of content and skills, further development of habits and character, and the ability to consistently create high-quality work.

We are engaged in this work because it enhances all that we do. Whether ensuring academic excellence, nurturing the development of the whole child, or attracting and developing a diverse, high-performing, mission-aligned staff, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts are at the heart of our work together. As such, we commit ourselves to an ABAR approach to education. This and other work at the network and school levels will serve as a valuable foundation for Alma to move deeper into the ABAR space and to accelerate our existing focus in the years ahead. Just as our focus on student achievement is core to who we are, our commitment to be intentional ABAR practitioners is central to our mission and has become an explicit organizational priority.

Our families choose and entrust us with the academic and overall well-being of their children. Our ultimate goal is to equip every scholar with the knowledge and experiences needed to help them cultivate their power and brilliance. Annual Report 2021





July 2020 — June 2021


Save the Date

a Decade of GROWTH

$ 11,455,987

Federal Funding

$ 1,708,443

Private Funding








for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at our new Frederick

Douglass Campus in late January 2022!

Ten years ago, Alma began in a decommissioned district school building. Teacher candidates auditioned in local daycares and interviewed in downtown coffee shops. Families and staff worked all summer to clean up the classrooms and prepare for the very first First Day of School for 120 scholars in K-2.

EXPENSES Personnel

$ 7,610,156


$ 2,430,137


$ 2,333,761



Net Income

Alma is still open on that same city block, except now it’s in a light-filled, colorful 43,000 square foot building we built in 2016. That facility, now the Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus, allowed for Alma to grow out to its full gradespan of Kindergarten through 8th grade, with 450 scholars enrolled.

$ 1,189,162

*Alma del Mar continues to budget conservatively in order to meet its required debt service covenants. However, the FY21 operating surplus is higher than budgeted due to an increase in revenue from federal and private sources due to COVID-19, and a decrease in expenses due to a majority of scholars and staff engaging in remote learning for most of the school year.

Now, Alma serves an additional 500 New Bedford children as part of the school’s new Frederick Douglass Campus. This campus is currently split across three physical sites while we finish construction of a permanent home for our Douglass scholars. The 52,000 square foot building is set to be completed this winter. 13

State Funding

Annual Report 2021


Chris Arnold

Bronwen Cunningham

Jan Baptist, Chair

Gail Fortes

Christopher Bator

Lucile Hicks

Vanessa Brown

Martha Kay

Alicia Cortez

Maria Rosario


Jim Hughes

Melissa Bride

Dennis Keefe

Chad Brubaker

Judith Li*

David Cabral^

Rob Massoud

Roger Cabral

Joseph McDonough

John Camera

Carolyn Nunez

Karyn Campbell^

David Prentiss^

Priscilla Ditchfield

Mark Rasmussen ^

Jeanne Eagle*

Kris Tomlinson*

Ed Haddad

Sandy See

Vera Horgan

Bob Unger*

Eric Hudson ^Founding Trustee

*Former Trustee


Our Supporters

Every donation of every amount made a difference for our school community during the 2020-2021 school year. We wish to recognize all of our supporters below, equally. FOUNDATIONS & FUNDS

Eastern Charitable Foundation

Longfield Family Foundation, Inc.

Enable Hope Foundation

Louis Calder Foundation


George Frederick Jewett Foundation East

Ludes Family Foundation

Amelia Peabody Foundation

George H. & Jane A. Mifflin Memorial Fund

Barr Foundation

Highland Street Foundation

Acushnet Foundation Fund, Southcoast Community Foundation

The Benevity Community Impact Fund Charter School Growth Fund The Cynthia M. Whitehead Charitable Fund 15

Leonard & Hilda Kaplan Charitable Foundation Seth & Beth Klarman Fund Lofberg Family Foundation

Move the World Foundation One8 Foundation St. Aidan’s Chapel The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc The Blackbaud Giving Fund Wellington Management Foundation


Mary Jean & Bill Blasdale

Oscar Afre

Mark Bono

Jonas Peter Akins & Sarah B. Stapleton

Robert Booth & Bronwen Cunningham

Anonymous (3)

Linda & Sandy Boothby

Chase & Nicole Arnold

Nan & Bill Braucher

Chris & Trish Arnold

Melissa & James Bride

Ben & Deb Baker

Richard & Jayne Burkhardt

Chris & Veronique Bale

Capt. Weston & Barbara Burnett

Christina Bascom Charles & Patricia Bentley Nathaniel & Jewelle Bickford

Gertrude Burr Karyn & Ben Campbell Jack Cannell Annual Report 2021

Alvan Carr

Will & Laura Gardner

Nan Johnson

Elizabeth Chapin

David Gilbertson & Carolee Matsumoto

Nathaniel Katin-Borland

Hanumara & Lakschmi Chowdri

Ed & Barbara Haddad

James & Ann Conway

Ernest M. Haddad

Loretto & Dwight Crane

Bob & Cynthia Hamburger

Doug Crocker

Janet M. Haring

David & Vicki Croll

Maria & David Harrington

Leslie & Helen Degroot

Lucile Pillow Hicks

Allan & Priscilla Ditchfield

Prentiss & Polly Higgins

Matt & Dee Downey

Jonathan & Elizabeth Howland

Arline & Roy Enoksen Mary & Jim Faughnan

Bridget Hoye Hoye

Anne Patterson & Christopher Finn

Heidi & Arthur Huguley

Jim & Janet Fitzgibbons

Jan Baptist

Gail Fortes

Jim & Bess Hughes


Peter Huidekoper

Martha Kay Mike & Martha Keating Dennis Keefe Lucy Keefe Rusty & Betsy Kellogg Robert & Diane Kramer Ted & Nancy Kurtz Scott & Monica Laurans Barry & Sherry Leiwant Matthew Harold Leiwant John & Lisa Lofberg Chuck Longfield

Joseph & Holly McDonough

Frank & Barbara Resnek

Alex & Freddy McFerran Elizabeth McKay

Norman & Maryellen Shachoy

Kathy & Derek Melven

Anna Sikorsky

John Menzel

Mr. & Mrs. John & Susan D. Spooner

Elise Mock Mary Myers Kauppila Network for Good Mary Ellen Newby Carolyn Nunez Open Society Institute John Pannell Tom & Jill Pappas

Barbara & Ted Lorentzen

David Prentiss

Cynthia Marie, Central Source Inc.

Iryna Priester

Patrick & Ute Prevost

Cecilia & Chris Ross

Robert & Bonnie Stapleton Stephen K Smith Fredi & Howard Stevenson Paul & Ulla N D Sullivan Maryann Teixeira Joan Underwood Ann & Jack Webb Jay & Mimi Whalen Eusie Zane Hans & Ann Ziegler 16

Putting New Bedford children on the path to college and challenging them to be service-minded leaders.

515 Belleville Ave. New Bedford, MA 02746 www.almadelmar.org 774.206.6827 info@almadelmar.org /almadelmarcharterschool @AlmaCharter @AlmaCharter