Rosa Parks with Graham & Parks students at the Graham & Parks dedication and school naming in 1981.
Graham and Parks is the result of joining two schools in 1981 -- the Cambridge Alternative Public School (CAPS), which was a small, nationally acclaimed magnet school, and the Webster School, which was a small, traditional neighborhood school. The School was renamed after Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005), inspiration for the modern civil rights movement, and Sandra Graham, a local activist for social, racial and economic justice. The school was located on Upton Street from 1982 until 2003, when we moved to 44 Linnaean Street.
Students register for school at the Family Resource Center (617-349-6551). Most admissions occur at the kindergarten level, though there are usually some students admitted at most grade levels. As much as demographics allow, we balance classes by race, gender, socioeconomic class, and learning needs/styles. This balancing reflects our belief that having heterogeneous groups of students working together is the best starting point for learning.
The educational program is highly individualized, with an emphasis on teaching the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in creative ways. The curriculum is developed by teachers and focused on building concepts and ideas. It is hands-on, project-based, integrated, multi-cultural and acknowledges diverse family groupings. We emphasize cooperative learning since we believe that learning is primarily a social activity.
Our multi-graded Jr. K and K kindergarten classrooms have a maximum of 20 students, with a highly qualified early childhood teacher and a full-time assistant. All other classrooms average 22 students with a highly-qualified, licensed teacher and a 3-hour assistant. The teachers and assistants are chosen by our parent/staff hiring committee because of their special qualifications and their understanding of the Graham & Parks culture.
The staff and students are supported by an Early Childhood Resource Specialist, two Literacy Coordinators, a Reading Recovery Specialist, and a Math Coach. In addition, we have a School Social Worker and a School Psychologist. Approximately 22% of our students have Individualized Educational Plans and our classroom teachers and students may work with Learning Disability Special Educators, an Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist, a Speech Therapist or an Inclusion Specialist.
We try to balance freedom and responsibility for the students -- we are truly concerned about the child and the curriculum and we are concerned with trying to educate the whole child.
We place a strong emphasis on self- and social-awareness: we want our children not only to be capable -- to have skills and knowledge -- but to be lovable -- to like themselves and others and to work well together.
Parent involvement is unique. Parents not only are invited to volunteer in classrooms and to initiate curriculum linked projects, they are also involved in many aspects of decision-making - from the hiring of staff, to deciding how fund-raising money will be spent. Parents are supported by a part-time Parent Liaison. In addition, the city makes available (by appointment) Citywide Liaisons in several languages including Creole and Spanish, as well as a LGBT Liaison to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender families and youth.
We teach French to all students in grades 5. French is often a second language abroad, and serves as a "cross over" subject for our international non-English-speaking and our English-speaking students. Originally, the school community chose French in partnership with our previous Haitian "English Immersion" program and to honor Haitian cultural traditions.
We have an instrumental music program in grades 5.
We have an after-school childcare program grades K - 4, an after-school Community Schools Program offering enrichment classes for students grades K-5, and an after-school academic learning center for grades 3 – 5.
Written progress reports (and portfolios in some classes) -- which include discussions of social and emotional growth, summaries of academic progress, checklists in math and language arts, evaluations from specialties in which children participate, and samples of work -- and two parent/teacher conferences per year, further enhance our citywide progress report format.
Progress Reports go out at the same time throughout the city
||End of first term
|November 12 - 24
||Conferences and Progress Reports distributed
||End of second term
|January 28 - February 12
||Report cards distributed
||End of third term
||Conference and Progress reports distributed
||End of year - Final report cards distributed
This schedule serves as a baseline and does not in any way preclude a school from implementing additional home-school communication.
*Because of the late start, April conference and progress reporting schedule is interrupted
by April vacation.
ABOUT THE IMAGE
The mural image shown here is set at the left and right of the main entrance to the former building of the Graham and Parks Alternative Public School, at 44 Upton Street. The Mural is called "I'd Hammer Out Love," and was created in 1984 by artist Judith Inglese on a commission from the Cambridge Arts Council. The left panel measures 53 and 3/4 inches high by 130 inches wide; the right panel measures 54 and 3/4 inches by 130 inches.
The lyrics, as they appear in the mural, are by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger:
If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
all over this land.
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and sisters
all over this land.
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