Ariel Falconer's Page

Citizen Schools

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Ariel Falconer's Page

Citizen Schools has been a big part of my life for the last two and a half years. Although I work on the national development team and write all day about Citizen Schools' innovations - the proven model that will close the achievement and opportuntiy gaps for low-income students and drive policy change - I recently had the chance to change my daily routine and work with students transitioning from middle school to high school in Boston.

This year, I am a writing coach for an eighth grade student named Angie from the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury, MA. Orchard Gardens has been struggling to help its students meet state standards; only 19% of 6th graders scored proficient on the state test in math the year before Citizen Schools began working with 6th grade students. After one year of working with Citizen Schools, Orchard Gardens' state test proficiency levels for 6th grade students grew 18 percentage points in math and 23 percentage points in English.

Luckily for Angie, she is already a strong student in math and plans on becoming a doctor and a veterinarian. Her future plans also include traveling the world and clubbing on weekends, so I told her I hope we stay in touch. Angie and I have been working to strengthen her writing skills and craft  essays for her to use to apply for high school. Boston has a difficult-to-navigate high school placement system that requires essays and applications for the high quality, college-track high schools. When I went to high school, I just went to the school down the street. Luckily for me, it was a good one.

Angie is a smart cookie – I tell her that a lot. She knows exactly what statistics to look for in a high school – four-year college graduation rate, attendance, state test proficiency, and class size. She wants a small school that is focused on health careers and offers AP and IB-level courses, and she needs to write strong essays and stay organized in order to submit her applications. Did I mention that Angie is only in 8th grade? Luckily, she has her Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow, Tony Ryals, and Citizen Schools’ Program Manager, Jennifer Scherck, to work with her and her mother to navigate the high school selection process this year. And I'm there to help her too.

I’ve loved working with Angie this year, and I’ve learned so much about the high school choice process in Boston. I’m hoping that you’ll be able to get involved with Citizen Schools, either by volunteering with us or by making a donation. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new too.

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Ariel Falconer's Page
Angie, in her sock monkey hat