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Understanding Your Options Within a Controlled Choice System

Whether you are entering the January Kindergarten Lottery or trying to decide between schools that have openings you may want to spend some time researching your options.

The Schools at a Glance brochure contains an overview of each school as well as charts comparing some of the special features available at each school.

Each school’s website contains both general information and an inside peek into the life of the school community in the form of parent newsletters, calendars, and recent news stories posted to the site.

School Tours
If you are able to visit during the school day, you can schedule an appointment online with each school you are considering. Even if you can’t come in person, the liaison is a great resource for asking questions about the programs and school community. Please note: Most liaisons have limited contact time due to part time work schedules. Liaisons will respond to your call as soon as possible. The online appointment system is the quickest way make a tour appointment.

Here is a listing of Family Liaison's for each school:

Cambridge Public Schools Tour Contacts
Lillian Rater 617.349.6315
Susan Tiersch 617.349.4377
Shirley Harvey 617.349.6587 x111
Cambridge Street Christen Sohn 617.349.3050
Greta Hardina
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Marguerite Hicks-Gyewu
Fletcher Maynard Academy
Phyllis Newton 617.349.6588 x112
Graham & Parks 
Lauren Morse
617.349.6577 x115
Lissa Galluccio
617.349.6555 x208
Nancy Wyse
King Open
Neusa DaCosta 617.349.6540 x138
Denise Sullivan 617.349.6679
Nicole Sullivan
617.349.6530 x1141
Putnam Avenue Pamela Chu 617.349.7780
Rindge Avenue Teresa Sanchez 617.349.4060
Tobin/Tobin Montessori
Mary Frawley 617.349.6600 x153
Vassal Lane Tanya Bacci-Benzan 617.349.6550

Many families wish to send their child to a school where they will already have friends or family. When weighing advice from other parents, it’s helpful to speak with parents inside the schools you are considering. While well-intentioned, parents may have misperceptions about schools they are not personally familiar with.

Most schools have a parent group, PTO, or “Friends” group that can be reached via their school website or family liaison. Or, you may wish to post to a local parent listserv asking for feedback from parents whose children currently attend a particular school. Since schools change over time, weigh the responses of current parents more heavily than parents who left the school several years ago or more.

Differences Between Schools
All schools have strengths and weaknesses, so while some schools may be a better match for your child than others, there are no “best” or “worst” schools in Cambridge. Parents base their selection of schools on a number of factors, and you should base your decision on the values that are most important to you.

Differences between schools may include: location, schedule, structure of the day, length of day, style of instructional approach, school demographics, whether grades are 1 year or looped, after school childcare options, arts or athletic programs, foreign language instruction, discipline approach, number of recesses (1 or 2), community celebrations, and approach to creating positive peer culture.

As you get to know a variety of schools you will find that there are happy parents, bright students, academic challenge and academic support available within all of our schools. All schools follow the same core curriculum and build community partnerships that enliven and enrich their school community. All of our schools offer music, art, library and computer classes and provide physical education twice per week. All schools have a CitySprouts garden, and all offer a school lunch program that includes nutritional menu items prepared in a full kitchen on site.

The school choice process is the first step in building a lasting partnership between parents and schools, so choose your partner wisely. No matter which schools you choose, our teachers and staff stand ready to work with you to provide your child with the tools they need to realize their full potential.