The Paraclete Academy is featured in a recent editorial by Lawrence Harmon in the Boston Globe about “what it takes to close the achievement gap between low-income urban students and their suburban counterparts.” http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2011/10/28/schools-need-second-shift/2RRklk7pFbmQt590RuwOvO/story.html
Harmon believes successful turnaround efforts “often require adding two, three, or even more hours of academic and enrichment programs to the school day.” His solution is not to extend the hours teachers are in school but to hand off the next shift to young dedicated college graduates. He cites two such programs that do just that: Citizen Schools and the Paraclete Academy.
This is what Harmon has to say about the Paraclete Academy:
“Some high-quality after-school programs operate without any taxpayer funding. The Paraclete Academy in South Boston is a calling for its co-founder, Sister Ann Fox. It’s also a godsend for low-income, elementary, and middle-school students who arrive at the former St. Augustine convent on E Street shortly after school and stay as late as 8 p.m. Paraclete takes considerable care to balance the ethnic and economic mix of its roughly 50 students.
Paraclete survives by virtue of philanthropic contributions, in-kind services from its families, and a brilliant personnel strategy: recruit talented and idealistic college grads willing to sign 11-month contracts in exchange for a small stipend plus room and board on the upper floors of the former convent.
Three recent graduates from Colby, Notre Dame, and Grinnell make up this year’s teaching contingent. With training from Paraclete’s principal, Ben Klooster, and opportunities to observe teachers at nearby Perkins elementary school, the young staffers more than held their own this week while conducting review classes for sixth graders who are preparing to take the entrance test for the city’s competitive examination schools.
At Paraclete Academy, it becomes clear that the school day can be expanded dramatically without the expense of employing veteran, certified teachers. What’s needed – and what’s available from the ranks of recent college grads – are a cadre of adult friends who are competent tutors and eager to share their outside interests. At Paraclete, that can take the form of anything from a spirited game of four square in the parking lot to hands-on classes on robotics.”
In the last fourteen years, the Paraclete Academy has been home to 50 such talented and idealistic young people. They come to South Boston to enrich the lives of urban youth and they leave with their own lives greatly enriched as well.