Wednesday, December 29, 2010

John Paul II Academy gets foundation grant, confidence in new model

The $100,000 awarded to Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy by the Boston Foundation will pay for teacher development, curriculum development in math and literacy, and a clicker system that will boost participation by allowing all the students in a classroom to answer a question at once.

But aside from its application, the hunk of cash also signifies the success of the Boston Archdiocese's relatively new school model. In 2007, the church began to consolidate its private schools. 

Now, four different campuses—three in Dorchester, one in Mattapan—fall under the Pope John Paul II umbrella, and all of them will benefit from the grant.

Russ Wilson, the academy's director, says that healthy enrollment numbers help court larger grants, and as a result, the academy's 135 teachers and 1,300 students will benefit from the resources.

"Many times, if somebody makes a donation to a school, it's school-specific, it stays right there on a single campus. Under the old model, each of the Catholic schools were independent of one another, and they serviced only about 200 to 300 students," he says. 

"Under regional model, we're able to actively solicit some backers to make an investment in 
the academy, and then disperse that generous donation across the four campuses."

The strategy appears to be working. 

In May, the academy was awarded $2 million in grants, from EMC Corporation and Liberty Mutual Group.

Wilson adds that the regional model also enables the school's notably low tuition rates, which total $3,800 per year for K-8.

Enrollment numbers should continue to climb, and Wilson says that the academy could accommodate another 300 students.