Frequently Asked Questions
What is Prospect Fellows?
Prospect Fellows is a new initiative established by Prospect Hill Academy Charter School (PHA) to further the school’s capacity to provide targeted academic interventions to PHA’s most struggling students, offer engaging extracurricular activities to all students, increase the faculty’s time spent on the core functions of teaching and learning, and diversify our teaching staff by recruiting diverse college graduates, including a critical mass of PHA alumni, who reflect the demographics of the PHA student and family community. Prospect Fellows will employ 6-10 recent college graduates in grades 3-6 in 2013-14, 18 in grades K-6 in 2014-15 and up to 35 distributed across three campuses K-12 in 2015-16 and beyond.
What difference will Prospect Fellows make?
The program is designed to:
- Provide additional capacity to ensure that struggling students receive targeted tutoring to address identified skill gaps. This will allow students to better access the class curriculum and perform at grade level so that teachers are able to attend to the needs of the whole class. Expected outcome: Students served directly by Prospect Fellows will achieve a minimum of 60% Student Growth Percentile on both the English Language Arts and Mathematics MCAS examinations in the spring of 2014.
- Engage and inspire students with innovative out-of-school-time (OST) enrichment courses designed to accommodate a range of learning styles. By tapping into individual interests and fostering interpersonal connections, Prospect Fellows will work in concert with PHA’s existing OST program to promote a love of learning, help to build confidence, and teach transferable skills and habits. Expected outcome: More students will participate in and report high-quality experiences with extracurricular enrichment opportunities led by Prospect Fellows.
- Support our faculty by providing relief from extra teaching responsibilities such as arrival and dismissal duties or substitute teaching and allowing classroom teachers to focus on the core processes of teaching and learning, planning, assessment, and collaboration. Expected outcome: 80% of teachers will testify that Prospect Fellows is an effective strategy for promoting work/life balance and teacher retention.
- Contribute to the educator pipeline and diversify PHA’s teacher population, with a focus on hiring PHA alumni who reflect the backgrounds of our student population and can model college success. Expected outcome: At least 25% of all new hires, including Prospect Fellows, will represent the racial, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds of the majority of PHA’s student population.
Why Prospect Fellows and how do we know it will work?
Prospect Hill Academy has identified three key priorities stemming from its 2012-2017 strategic plan: early literacy skill deficits, college persistence and completion, and faculty retention. Upon exploring high-impact tutoring programs at City on a Hill Charter School, the MATCH School, and Phoenix Charter Academy, as well as its own Upper School APEX tutoring program, the Fellows program is designed to adapt proven success factors to the unique needs of the PHA community.
While the program primarily targets low-performing students, it is designed to benefit the entire PHA community.
- Low-performing students: close skill gaps and perform at grade level through tutoring; instill a love of learning through enrichment.
- Average and high-performing students: more attention from classroom teachers, who can now better differentiate instruction; increased exposure to a variety of interests through enrichment.
- Faculty: greater support in the classroom; additional capacity for academic interventions with individuals and small groups of students; relief from additional duties, resulting in increased time for planning, assessment, and collaboration.
- Families: increased capacity for individual student-based communication.
What’s in it for the Fellows?
The Fellows will be recent college graduates, with the goal of at least 25% being PHA alumni. Some Fellows will join to perform a year of service in the community that has served them, gain real-life work experience, and position themselves for future job opportunities. Others will join because they want to pursue careers in education. Prospect Hill Academy is currently in negotiation with three universities to establish a partnership that will lead to a Master’s degree and educator licensure. The Fellows who indicate a desire to become teachers will serve with the general cohort in year 1, enroll in a Master’s program, act as Lead Fellows, and conduct a formal student teaching practicum in year 2, and, provided that their skills align with open positions, be hired as full-time teachers at PHA in year 3.
How will the Fellows be supported?
Fellows will begin their year in July with a comprehensive induction process that includes: training by PHA faculty mentors, video case studies, collaborative activities with middle and high school student mentors, and PHA on-site summer program observation and participation. Fellows will then partake in the week-long full faculty orientation at the end of August, which includes training on school policies and procedures, as well as professional development on topics such as instructional strategies in a multicultural classroom. Participation in the faculty orientation will further allow for coherence and collaboration between the faculty and the Fellows.
Ongoing training will take place through weekly two-hour campus cohort meetings and monthly day-long retreats. Professional development topics are selected to help Fellows improve their daily work. They include: authentic curriculum design, balancing rigor and relationships, the importance of family engagement, teaching non-academic skills, diagnosing and addressing foundational skills gaps, and data collection and analysis. The weekly cohort meetings will also include time for group processing and reflection. Finally, each Fellow will maintain weekly journal entries that are shared with the Program Director who will respond electronically to journal entries on a bi-weekly basis.
In addition to the Director, half-time Site Coordinators (who are also PHA teacher-leaders) will be hired at each campus to provide support, guidance, and supervision to the Fellows.
How much does Prospect Fellows cost?
The Prospect Fellows program will cost $370,000 in Year 1, $600,000 in Year 2, and $1,100,000 in Year 3. Fellows will earn $18,000 and Lead Fellows $21,000 per year. PHA alumni will receive a $3,000 signing bonus in their first year.
The school will allocate $300,000 of its operating budget to the program and the remainder will be raised through grants and fundraising. No current programs will be eliminated due to the budget reallocation.
PHA will further apply for an AmeriCorps grant for 2014-2015 and has received positive feedback on program plans from the Massachusetts Service Alliance that oversees the AmeriCorps program. If granted, funding would be at a sum of $13,300 per Fellow.