We offer a unique training and licensure opportunity.
City on a Hill strives to provide a nurturing environment for aspiring teachers to become licensed and effective urban educators. Fellows experience an urban public high school setting where…
…the mission and vision are alive.
All schools have a written mission, but very few schools have a living mission. The mission of a school should serve to focus all members of the community on teaching and learning. CoaH’s mission and vision foster a sense of belonging for all members of the CoaH family. It is clear through our living mission that everyone is responsible for student achievement. The result is a cohesive school community and quality instruction in the classroom.
…students are academically successful.
At City on a Hill, students are required to demonstrate their abilities directly — to “show” what they know and can do — at the end of each course during each of their four years. Credits are not a culmination of seat time. Because learning is the result of thinking, City on a Hill students experience activities that stimulate higher-order thinking and supply the academic capital required to be productive citizens in a diverse democratic society. Since its very first graduating class in 1998, every City on a Hill senior that has applied to college has been accepted. 100% of City on a Hill students have passed the MCAS test (the mandatory state graduation exam) and City on a Hill is consistently among the highest scoring public schools in the city of Boston.
…teachers have time to work together.
In order to be successful, teachers must be given time — in addition to their planning periods — to meet with fellow teachers and administrators to discuss teaching and learning. At City on a Hill, departments meet weekly so that teachers can work with colleagues who are the experts in their subject area. In addition, there are student-focused meetings by grade level to enable teachers to discuss struggling students and strategize for success. Lastly, there are weekly faculty meetings when best practices are shared, inspirational culture building events occur, school-wide data and systems are shared and analyzed, and democratic decisions are carried out. Teaching Fellows are included in all meetings and all professional development activities.
…collegiality is strong.
Significant relationships must be developed between faculty and administration, faculty with each other, and faculty and administration with students and their families in order to raise and sustain student performance. As Perkins (1995) describes, a school culture must transform from a culture of congeniality, enjoying each other’s company, to a culture of collegiality. At City on a Hill, teachers discuss teaching, share techniques and skills, observe each other’s classes, co-teach and co-plan, and foster curricular overlap. The principal exemplifies effective relationships by functioning not as a boss, but as a supportive instructional leader engaged in the school-wide educational process. Through self-government, teacher-driven professional development, significant meeting time, and a principal who demonstrates the reflective-practitioner model, City on a Hill faculty and staff endeavor to foster a collegial community in order to assist each other in the fight against complacency and the journey to reach their professional potential. Teaching Fellows are not considered “student teachers” in the typical sense; they are considered full-time teachers earning licensure.
…there is a strong culture of celebration.
Building a positive culture is an important aspect of a successful school. A community that values and encourages motivation publicly celebrates success. At City on a Hill, school-wide celebrations are valued rituals held on a weekly basis. Because academic achievement is a central tenet of City on a Hill, the community endeavors to eliminate a competitive culture that regards high grades as finite rewards to be fought over or believes failing grades are ample punishment to be dispersed liberally. Elimination of a competitive culture is achieved by fostering a culture of consistent, inclusive celebrations.
…there is a pro-student philosophy.
A motivationally conducive school environment is pro-student. Pro-student is not the same as student-centered (a methodology of teaching). City on a Hill is a pro-student environment because all community members understand that every action is performed with the goal of enabling each student to reach their potential. City on a Hill’s pro-student philosophy is governed by the belief that there are no bad children — only children who make bad decisions — and the belief that all students can learn. Adults understand that the power to enable students to reach their potential primarily resides in the hands of all those working at the school each day. We work to give our students the knowledge and skills to make healthy and positive choices.
…standards for academics are high.
High and explicit standards for academic achievement are essential to achieving positive results. High achievement is more likely when the whole community believes that all students can learn, while understanding that all students learn differently. When students struggle to meet high standards, it is incumbent upon teachers to find the method to enable students to succeed. At City on a Hill, grades are not given; grades are earned. In order to prepare students not only to be admitted to colleges but to succeed once in college, all internal assessments act as feedback to students to facilitate improvement.
…the standards for student comportment are high.
Strict standards of student behavior are important to enable effective teaching and learning throughout an entire school. The standards and expectations for positive and professional student behavior at City on a Hill are high and explicit. There are swift and transparent consequences for inappropriate behavior at City on a Hill. When dealing with student behavior, however, the emphasis is not on discipline but on the process of teaching the skills needed for students to make better choices in the future. The focus is teaching the student why what they did was unacceptable, and what they can do in the future to ensure that behavior does not repeat.
…the student population is small.
The size of a school must be conducive to collegiality and eliminate anonymity among all members of its community. With less than 300 students and approximately 60 faculty and staff, all teachers at City on a Hill know the students and colleagues within their grade level intimately. City on a Hill follows the common community rule that if your staff cannot fit into one room, your school is too big. Not only can all faculty and staff at CoaH fit into one room, the entire school community fits into one auditorium for a weekly assembly called Town Meeting.