by George J Elbaum
Mother Caroline Academy is a private middle school for girls in grades 5-8 from low income families. Founded in 1993 in the Catholic tradition, the school provides an excellent educational experience to approximately 60 girls in inner city Boston, and the best proof of its effectiveness is that in the 18 years since its inception, 100% of its girls have graduated from high school and 94% matriculate college. It accomplishes this by having a 13-hour school day, including after-school activities, and emphasizes hands-on personal mentoring by its staff, including its several volunteer teachers. Many of the girls are from immigrant families from around the world: Central & South America (Haiti, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Barbados), Africa (Congo, Nigeria), and Asia (Vietnam, China), so with the US-born students this results in a truly diverse group. Several of the girls with whom we spoke impressed us with their friendly openness and enthusiasm. Learning that one of them had transferred from a public school, we asked her why, and she replied that her parents thought that Mother Caroline Academy would provide not only a superior academic environment but also a friendlier and safer one, and after a year there she was glad that she had transferred.
I spoke to 45 girls from classes 6, 7, and 8, of which the 7th & 8th graders had studied about the Holocaust, and the 7th graders had even seen the movie “Paper Clips” (which inspired me to write my book). My presentation was organized at Mother Caroline Academy by teacher Lily Sitron and coordinated by Judi Bohn of Facing History and Ourselves.