Ten Years of
2003 – 2013
EXCEL ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOLS
Dear Excel Supporter, For a decade, we have had the privilege of running what has become Massachusetts’ highest performing middle school. Over the past two years, we have launched two additional schools that match its academic rigor and commitment to excellence. Our mission has always been to prepare our students to succeed in high school and college, apply their learning to solve relevant problems, and engage productively in their communities. Today, that mission is thriving with almost ½ of our college-age alumni persisting towards a Bachelor’s Degree and another ½³ on track for an Associate’s Degree. We look now to the future: opening Excel Academy High School in August 2015. While Excel Academy, as a public school, operates almost entirely on public funding, we do rely on private support from many generous friends for such important needs as facilities. Your support is critical for us to build Excel Academy High School so that we can expand our model. We will continue to operate our middle schools with fidelity to the model we know works. The Excel experience is based on high expectations, clear structures and systems, exceptional teaching, and personalized attention. It’s time to provide our graduating eighth graders with a college preparatory high school experience that matches and extends the rigor, the energy, and the cohesive culture of their middle school careers. Continuing these practices in high school will help ensure that all of our students are on the path to and through college. When you support Excel, you support more than just our classrooms and our students. You support our impact on Boston – the communities of East Boston, Chelsea, and beyond. I believe that education is the key to transforming individual lives and entire communities. Thank you for helping to make that change happen. Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season, and thanks for your support.
Owen Stearns Chief Executive Officer
10th ANNIVERSARY OVERVIEW
2,280 days of school
1,000,000 hours of homework
visitors to Excel schools
EXCEL ACADEMY THROUGH THE YEARS
2013 Opened in East Boston
School doubled in size and struggled with growth
Major efforts implemented; school begins turnaround
Graduated first 8th grade class
Honored with National Charter School of the Year distinction
Students ranked #1 in Massachusetts for the first time
Students ranked #1 in Massachusetts in every middle school grade level
Massachusetts Charter Cap lifted
Opened Excel Academy â€“ Chelsea
Opened Excel Academy â€“ Orient Heights
Approved to open Excel Academy High School in Fall 2015
EXCEL STUDENTS EXCEL
This graph shows Excel 8th grade students’ performance on the MCAS exam – the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test given to all students in the spring of their 8th grade year. At Excel, we don’t “teach to the test.” We teach until all students have learned. Armed with robust reading abilities, critical thinking skills, and nuanced numbers understanding, our students approach testing days as yet another day to excel. 4
EXCEL STUDENTS EXCEL
I am proud to be an Honor Roll student and a basketball player. Recently,
when my grades started to drop, I knew I had two choices: quit basketball, or talk to someone about how to manage my time better. I chose to talk to some adults. My teachers, coach, and older brother helped me make a plan to do my difficult assignments first, before the games, and leave the short, easier homework for later in the night. After that? My grades began to rise, and so did my confidence. With all of the supports in place, Excel has helped me change dramatically from a fifth grader into where I am now as an eighth grader. MICHAEL DELROSARIO
8TH GRADER EXCEL – EAST BOSTON
EXCEL LEADERS LEAD
There’s only one thing we all control on a daily basis: our effort. Students
and staff alike have little to no control over what happens outside of school. Our students and their families yearn for a better life with greater opportunities, and that’s exactly why I focus my efforts as a teacher on college. Education is the best way to open doors to a happier, more fulfilling future. Our students take risks and chase lofty dreams because they know Excel offers them a unique, safe environment in which to do so. We run on optimism, hope, and hard work. DAN DOVERSPIKE
HEALTH AND FITNESS INSTRUCTOR/ATHLETICS AND EXTRACURRICULAR MANAGER EXCEL – CHELSEA
WHY IT WORKS
These are the cornerstones of our work:
Underlying everything we do in each of these areas is the unshakable belief that each student can and will succeed.
THE EXCEL ENVIRONMENT: HIGH EXPECTATIONS
Every detail of the Excel environment is created and cultivated over time with college in mind. We know that a college degree dramatically changes both the opportunities and the outcomes for students’ futures. We don’t let anything stand in the way of that success. At Excel, high expectations for student behavior and academic performance are the norm. Students are taught from day one that these standards are in place to help them on their journey through college. They learn to challenge what they thought was possible, to work harder than they ever have before, and to act professionally both inside and outside the classroom. We hang college banners in our hallways and our classrooms. We talk to students about what it means to be “college-ready.” We partner with families to establish and maintain the habits of hard work that go along with these high expectations, year after year. If you ask our students, they will tell you where they want to go to college. At Excel, we aim high. College is not just a concept, it is a crystal clear goal that every student is capable of accomplishing. 8
THE EXCEL ENVIRONMENT: STRUCTURE & SYSTEMS
Our structure and systems give rise to incredible school culture. They are crucial components of our students’ journey through college. Each moment of each day is carefully constructed: Our students “sweat the small stuff.” Each day they are seen: • Greeting the principal each morning with a handshake • Passing in homework quietly and efficiently • Walking calmly and respectfully in the hallways • Modeling good sportsmanship during P.E. • Bringing and reading a book during fire drills • “Tracking” student and staff speakers with eye contact throughout class Consistent school-wide systems allow teachers to save valuable time they might otherwise spend on classroom management. Instead, they can focus on their craft of teaching. Within this environment, the curiosity of students and staff is unleashed. We place careful emphasis on documenting these best practices to share across our three-school network. Our systems and structures are revised each year to reflect improvements based on teacher and leader feedback.
THE EXCEL ENVIRONMENT: EXCEPTIONAL TEACHING
Our teachers, carefully chosen from thousands of applicants each year, are true masters of their craft. Every Excel teacher shares the mindset that all students can succeed and that teachers themselves are responsible for that success. Our teachers foster a love of learning and inquiry in their students. In an Excel classroom, you can feel the rigor. The pace is quick, and the material is challenging. Analysis, rather than simple summarization, is expected. Taking risks is encouraged, and participation is required. With energy and engagement, teachers maximize every minute of instructional time. Teachers spend months painstakingly preparing their syllabi and lessons, perfecting in-class handouts, and writing differentiated homework assignments for different types of learners. Across Excel, we use a data-driven approach to assess studentsâ€™ progress on a weekly basis. Teachers recalibrate their lessons or approach as needed, until each of their students masters the material. They fine-tune their materials in grade-level and department-wide meetings across the network on a regular basis, not waiting for annual test scores to tell them how their students are doing. Excel teachers are teammates, bound by commitment to their craft, their content, and their students. 10
THE EXCEL ENVIRONMENT: PERSONALIZED ATTENTION
Within an Excel school, everyone knows everyone. Personalized attention for each and every student creates a strong community with a powerful commitment to the shared goal of college graduation. Each moment of the day is student-centered. Students know that there’s no hiding! Teachers throughout the building know who they are, what they’re interested in, and what they’re struggling with. We believe that students deserve adults’ personal, engaged attention, inside and outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, our teachers prioritize individualized attention and advising on each lesson. If you visit an Excel classroom during independent work time, you’ll see teachers constantly circulating the classroom to address specific student concerns. Such careful instruction is made possible by the tight structures and systems that allow everyone’s energy to go where it is needed most. Outside of the classroom, Excel teachers share anecdotes and data in a systematic way to develop a rich picture of how each student is performing academically and behaviorally. This information is shared directly with students and parents so that everyone is working toward the same goal together.
THE NEXT TEN YEARS
Excel’s mission has always been to prepare middle school students to succeed in high school and college, apply their learning to solve relevant problems, and engage productively in their communities. In East Boston and Chelsea, there are too few college-prep high school options for our students. It is too critical a time in their educational journey to and through college to leave it up to chance. Looking ahead, it’s time to take our mission – and our students – to the high school level.
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
HIGH SCHOOL ON THE HORIZON
Our students are excelling in middle school.
Our systems and strategies have been tested and refined over time.
Now, ten years after our founding, we are in a great position to grow.
You can help us build a high school. 13
THE NEW EXCEL ACADEMY HIGH SCHOOL â€“ WHAT IT WILL TAKE YOU CAN HELP BUILD THE BRIDGE from middle school to high school. Contribute to a college-prep high school home in East Boston for 800 Excel students.
Breaking ground: 2014
Opening doors: 2015
Gifts at all levels are needed to make Excel Academy High School a reality. At the end of this campaign, Excel Academy will be fully-enrolled and largely financially sustainable on public funds. Thank you for your support.
EXCEL WITH US To all of our supporters: Excelâ€™s success and growth is because of you. For the past ten years and the next ten years, we thank you. To everyone who would like to learn more: We invite you to visit an Excel school. You are always welcome! We look forward to meeting you.
Learn More | Visit Excel | Invest in Growth www.excelacademy.org/donate
Contact Shane to discuss how Excel is redefining public education in Boston. Shane Dunn Managing Director of Strategic Growth and Development firstname.lastname@example.org (617) 874-4097
Published on Dec 13, 2013
Excel Academy Charter Schools is a growing network of public charter middle schools located in East Boston, MA, and Chelsea, MA. Our Annual...