State’s first school for Immigrant families opens in Boston

A new charter public school has opened its doors in Boston with a unique focus — immigrant families. It is the bay state’s first school that specifically focuses their efforts on English Language Learners and one of the first charters in the country to do so.

MATCH Community Day Charter Public School began its first school year with 100 pre-K and 2nd grade students from across the city. 70% of the students come from families whose native language is not English. This high rate is a result of robust community-based outreach.

“We reached out to community centers and actually [got] to know the people who run the centers, and built relationships with them, so that they can talk about the school,” said Mike Larsson, the executive director. “For example, we worked with the Brookside in Jamaica Plain and the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester.”

Of the 100 students, 15 of them are of Haitian descent (the second largest ethnic group) – with the highest percentage of students being Hispanic.

“We also have students who speak…Portuguese, Somali, Cape Verdean Creole, Arabic, and even one student who identified German as the primary language spoken at home.”

This new school is a result of the sweeping education reform efforts lead by education reform advocates, Governor Patrick, the state legislature, Mayor Menino and city hall. It is part of the largest expansion of charter public schools in more than a decade. Seven new charters are opening their doors this academic year to thousands of Boston school children. This includes the creation of the first charter “networks” in which existing high-performing charters are opening new schools, and the first “in-district” charters, which are charters that operate in partnership with districts and have more autonomy than traditional district schools.

Charters were challenged to attract and retain more English Language Learners and two charters — MATCH in Boston and Community Day in Lawrence — with successful track records of high academic performance, decided to collaborate in this venture.MATCH Community Day has a longer school day and year, and students will have their own personal tutor two hours a day. The school’s mission is to ensure that they excel in reading and writing in English so they can have the foundation necessary to achieve academically.

“As long as we’re offering quality education, and the families say the school is good for our kids, we expect the numbers to continue to grow.” Larsson expects the school to expand and serve about 700 children in grades K1-12 once its fully enrolled.

The school is located at 215 Forest Hills St. in Jamaica Plain.