Stamford Academy Charter High School had a four-hour all-school discussion last Thursday to talk about the school’s strengths and weaknesses, how the school is perceived in the larger community, and what the school community can do to change that perception.
Administrators from Domus, which operates Stamford Academy, and school leaders decided to have the discussion in response to a few students making bad choices that appear to reflect on the entire school community. During the facilitated discussion, students relayed what they’re proud of and like about the school (including how staff care for them, listen to them, use various teaching styles to find what works for each individual student); they also expressed their concerns about the school (not proud of how we're viewed, don’t think many students respect each other, we prove perceptions right because some students act poorly sometimes).
The last part of the day was spent brainstorming ways students can improve the school and its culture to ensure Stamford Academy remains a place where students who have previously struggled can get a solid education and graduate with a plan for the future. Students wrote on postcards one thing they will personally do to improve the school; the postcards will be mailed to them in four weeks so they can check in and see if they’ve kept their promise to themselves.
Mike Duggan, executive director of Domus, said, “In every school, there are a few young people with incredible challenges—hunger, poverty, abuse—who struggle and sometimes fail to manage their emotions and thus make bad choices. At Stamford Academy, the majority of the students are working hard—they want to make something of themselves and are focused on overcoming their past challenges.”
Craig Baker, Domus’ chief education officer who oversees Domus’ three schools, also stated, “In the minds of Stamford Academy students and adults, the actions of a few seem to paint the entire school with a bad reputation. The adults want to support the students as they work to change that. We are proud of them for their honest conversations today about what needs to change, and we look forward to working with them to make Stamford Academy a place where a young person can come to get back on track and graduate, continue their education, and get a good job and have a good life, like every teenager envisions.”