Ultimately, the mission at MATCH Charter Public High School is to prepare students for success in college and beyond.
Since its inception in 2000, the MATCH School has done just that. Proof of that comes in the statistic that 99 percent of the MATCH School’s first seven graduating classes from 2004 to 2010 have been accepted to four-year colleges or universities.
“Everything is geared toward: Are we preparing students to succeed in college?” said Jorge Miranda, principal at MATCH Charter Public High School.
A typical day for a MATCH student begins at 8:30 a.m. and consists of five academic classes and two hours of intensive individualized one-on-one tutoring. The academic classes are broken up into nearly hour-long periods.
“We try to maximize the 56 minutes we have with students,” Miranda said. “There isn’t any unstructured time.”
Many students have additional tutoring sessions or participate in extracurricular activities in the evening and do not leave until after 5 p.m. Depending on their needs, other students are tutored on the weekends and during the summer.
Much of the student population enters MATCH below grade level in math and reading. In 9th and 10th grades, teachers focus on getting students up to grade level. However, by the time 10th-graders are taking the MCAS, MATCH officials explain, the question is not will they pass the standardized test, but how well will they do.
In 11th grade, students take five classes, including an AP U.S. History course and then in 12th grade, seniors select up to two AP courses.
Senior Lakeisha St. Joy is on the college track now, but her journey at MATCH did not begin smoothly. She readily admits that she did not want to attend the MATCH School as a freshman and says she struggled with homework and the extended school hours.
However, it did not take her long to realize that completing homework was an integral step for her success and the longer hours and individualized tutoring sessions were beneficial in preparing her for the transition to college. She began staying after school and admitted to herself that she had to do better because she knew that she could do better.
“The secret sauce to MATCH is between the adults, the kids and their family,” said Executive Director Alan Safran.
To ensure student success, the MATCH School believes it is imperative to build open, honest and trusting relationships with its students. The Match Corps, which consists of recent college graduates who work full-time as tutors, teaching assistants and coaches, plays a large role in fostering those relationships.
MATCH administrators, teachers and tutors make a conscientious effort to keep the students and their parents and/or guardians engaged. One way in which they do so is by having tutors make a telephone call home every week to give updates on the students.
“Most schools don’t make that a priority,” Safran said.
Because of those weekly phone calls home and parent meetings, “no one is going to fall through the cracks,” said Miranda, the MATCH principal.
St. Joy did not fall through the cracks and gives credit to the tutors she had along the way. “I like the community feel,” St. Joy said. “It’s so small; it’s like a family. I like the tutor/student relationships. They really help guide you and support you.”
In addition to its small class sizes and student body of only 220, another unique feature of the MATCH School is its partnership with Boston University. By the time students complete their senior year of high school, they will have already taken two college-level courses.
“The most important lesson I’ll take away from being at this school is that I can do it,” St. Joy said. “This school is really tough. If you can master these four years, you can do anything.”
For more information, visit www.matchschool.org.