City on a Hill New Bedford – FAQs


  • CoaH New Bedford was founded in 2013 and opened with 88 students in 2014
  • The school is the third school of the City on a Hill network; the other two, Circuit Street and Dudley Square, are located in the Roxbury community of Boston
  • City on a Hill only serves students in grades 9-12, but is not the only Commonwealth Charter in the state
    • Lowell Middlesex (Lowell, MA)
    • MAP Academy (Plymouth, MA)
    • Paulo Freire (Holyoke, MA)
    • Phoenix Academies (Chelsea, Lawrence, Springfield, MA)
    • Sturgis (Hyannis, MA)


  • As of October 1st, 2018, CoaH New Bedford has 217 students in grades 9-12
    • Of this number, there are 78 9th graders, 60 10th graders, 49 11th graders and 3012th graders
  • Students of CoaH New Bedford primarily come from the New Bedford Public Schools
  • Families join the CoaH family by submitting an application.
    •  The only admission criteria are that you are a resident of the state of Massachusetts, that you passed 8th grade by the start of the school year and that you are age 21 or younger at the time of admissions

Student Demographics

School Year 2017-2018

Title % of School % of State % NBPS (ES+MS+HS)
First Language not English 34.3 20.9 38.5
English Language Learner 17.4 10.2 29.8
Student with Disabilities 29.7 17.7 21.3
High Needs 79.7 46.6 79.9
Economically Disadvantaged 68.6 32.0 67.4


The percentage of students at our school identified as having special needs exceeds that of New Bedford public school.


  • CoaH New Bedford employs 41 staff members
    • Of this number, nine live in New Bedford


  • CoaH graduated 27 students in its first graduating class in 2018.
    • Of that number, 24 went on to attend colleges and universities including Colorado State, Bridgewater State and Curry College.


  • In April 2018, the Board of Trustees of City on a Hill legally recognized the Boston Teachers Union as the bargaining authority for all three CoaH campuses, including CoaH New Bedford
  • City on a Hill became the fourth charter public school in the Commonwealth to be unionized. The others are:
    • Cape Cod Lighthouse (Harwich, MA)
    • Advanced Math and Science Academy (Marlborough, MA)
    • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts (South Hadley, MA)
  • City on a Hill is the first to be unionized by the Boston Teachers Union
    • The BTU is affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
  • In contrast, the New Bedford Public Schools teachers are members the New Bedford Teachers Union
    • The NBTU is affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Education Association.

Organizational Leadership

  • Gail Keith is the school leader (principal) of CoaH New Bedford
    • She has been in the position since July 2017
  • Gail’s direct manager is Sonya Pratt, Chief Schools Officer, a 16-year veteran of City on a Hill and formerly the school leader of CoaH Dudley Square
  • Kevin Taylor is the Chief Executive Officer of City on a Hill and joined in July 2018
    • Kevin reports to the City on a Hill Board of Trustees
  • Supporting all three City on a Hill schools is the “network” team which consists of 25 people in functions including Teaching & Learning, Operations, Human Resources, Finance and Development
  • While the network office is in Roxbury, members of the network team are in schools each week
    • The CEO, for example, visits each of the three schools at least twice per week for a half day

Addressing our Challenges

  1. Curriculum Changes, including piloting a new 9th grade curriculum at CoaH NB
  2. Data Driven Instruction/Academic Progress Monitoring, wherein we have reviewed the Q1 interim assessment and passing rates for each student, teacher and course and are working on re-teaching strategies to ensure all students master the material
  3. Renewed focus of Learning Network (Special Education)/English Language Learners in partnership with Landmark School, which has already visited CoaH NB twice and has provided targeted coaching to some of our Learning Network teachers
  4. Instructional Content Specialists in ELA, Math, Science and History, each of whom have deep content knowledge visit Coah NB teachers in their subject area at least once per week
  5. A new Chief Academic Officer, Amber Donell, who joined the organization in late October and has already implemented “Learning Walks” at all three campuses, including NB to help us re-imagine our academic program and transform our academic practices for the next generation of COAH students
    1. Further, we’ve added a Literacy and Math Interventionist; added and are continuing to use STAR Benchmark assessments and are collecting Reading and Math data at various intervals throughout the year; and interventionists are using Accelerated Reader and Accelerated math to run intervention groups based on assessment data
  6.  A new restorative justice model for discipline will address and positively impact the high suspension rate, as well as improve the overall interaction between all members of the CoaH school community (students-to-students and students-to-teachers.)

We believe byproducts of these steps will be increased student retention and performance and lower suspension rates.

Community Outreach and Impact

  • CoaH New Bedford students participate in “City Project,” a community service based graduation requirement through which students volunteer 100 hours
    • City Project includes an intern component and a research component
      • Examples of past projects have included:
        • Access to affordable healthcare in New Bedford paired with interning at the local hospital
        • Sustainability of the engineer career path in the city of New Bedford paired with interning at an engineering firm
  • Twice annually, students participate in a “service day” wherein the entire student body and staff perform community service
    • The October 2018 service day included students sorting donated items for families in need at Gifts to Give, helping clean up the Zoo for their Boo at the Zoo event, and working with the National Park Service
  • Kevin Taylor is a former New Bedford resident and immediate-past pastor of the oldest African-American congregation in the city
  • Since July, Kevin has met in-person with:
    • Jon Mitchell, Mayor of New Bedford (October)
    • Thomas Anderson, New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent (November)
    • Various other community leaders including those with the New Bedford Housing Authority, South Coast Chamber and Bristol Community College
  • City on a Hill New Bedford donated to the Salvation Army’s 2018 Thanksgiving food drive and will be donating non-perishable food items to People Acting in Community Endeavor (P.A.C.E.) as part of our holiday food drive


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