Extended Day Programming
We serve approximately 92 students with an extended day that runs 12+ hours, along with hundreds of young adults in our graduate support program – 15-20 of whom visit the school on a typical day. Students begin arriving at 6:30a.m. to help set up for breakfast and meet with teachers, and they usually do not go home until after evening study hall ends at 7:15p.m. We offer strong programming in both Visual Arts and Music and run an hour and 45 minutes of study hall for homework. We hold all-school meetings, weekly chapel services, interscholastic athletics, and a variety of clubs and activities. Epiphany has a dress code and clear behavioral expectations. Students are also actively engaged in the life of the city through community service projects.
Research by The Boston Foundation shows that more than 60% of violent youth crimes in Boston occur between 2:00p.m. and 10:00p.m., with a nearly 37% increase between 1:00 and 2:00p.m., just as kids are leaving school. In addition, 75% of Boston’s gun violence is concentrated in only 5% of the city’s neighborhoods, and these are the same neighborhoods where Epiphany students live and play. Long school days are, therefore, especially important for our students. Other studies have shown that unsupervised youth have higher rates of teenage pregnancy, drug use, and other risk-taking behaviors. Conversely, children in extended-day programs have better peer relations, emotional adjustment, conflict resolution skills, grades, and conduct in school. Epiphany’s extended school days as well as our academic summer programming provide students with a place that is safe, that challenges them, and that provides crucial support, and because these services are integrated cohesively, no one falls through the cracks. Finally, it is worth noting that many of our families move out of poverty while their children are students at Epiphany. Research is needed to confirm exactly why this is the case, but anecdotally many parents report that the extended school day helps.
Breakfast: Students are offered a nutritious, à la carte breakfast.
Homeroom: Students gather to prepare for the day.
8:00a.m. – 11:55a.m.
Lunch and Recess: The cafeteria opens for a nutritious lunch prepared by Chef Sue with help from Teaching Fellows and parents. Following lunch, students enjoy recess in the gym or the outdoor schoolyard.
12:45p.m. – 2:15p.m.
Academic Classes, Chapel (Wednesday afternoons) and Friday Assembly.
Sports: The opportunity to compete against other schools teaches our older students the value of cooperation and teamwork while enabling them to keep physically fit. The younger students meanwhile participate in P.E., learning many athletic activities, including skating and swimming.
Dinner: Prepared by teams of volunteers, dinner is offered Monday-Thursday for students. Families are always invited to join us for the evening meal.
Evening Study: To help students become independent learners, we provide a structured 1.5 hour evening study M-F and a study hall every Saturday morning.
Differentiated Learning and Essential Skill Building
Recent debate has focused on whether small schools or curriculum and pedagogy alone make the critical difference in narrowing the achievement gap. At Epiphany we believe that, in fact, a multi-pronged approach yields the best results: not either/or but both/and. Epiphany is a small school and will remain one, but we are also committed to maintaining a cutting edge curriculum that includes differentiated learning that focuses on each student’s needs. Ronald Ferguson, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education has written that, “Achievement rises when leadership teams focus thoughtfully and relentlessly on improving the quality of instruction” (Boston Globe, September 28, 2010). At Epiphany, we do exactly this. We assess students regularly using curricular-based assessments that inform pedagogy and that focus on building essential literacy and numeracy skills for each child. We also regularly bring in independent experts to review our work. (We are happy to make copies of these reports available upon request.) Students often enter Epiphany testing two, three, even four years below grade level, but, as our standardized test results show, our students make unprecedented gains, often as much as two years of progress or more in one school year. We set high standards for all students, and we get results.
Providing our students with a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner every school day is an essential part of helping them grow and develop academically and socially. According to Feeding America, children who are food insecure–living in households where access to nutritious and safe food is uncertain–are at a greater risk for being behind in academic development compared to their peers, for truancy from school, and behavioral problems. Our students all come from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds, and to be considered for admission to Epiphany, they must qualify for the federal free/reduced fee school lunch program. It is a reality that many, if not all of our students, have known the physical and emotional trauma of not having enough food to eat at home. At Epiphany, they not only eat 3 meals and 2 snacks every school day, but they also learn how to cook so they can share what they learn at home. Fresh fruits and vegetables, locally-sourced from regional farms whenever possible, are featured in every meal, and are also a big part of our lunch and dinner salad bar, which is extremely popular with our students. Epiphany students have minds fully fueled and ready to learn.