The Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) is located near Fields Corner in Dorchester. It is the one surviving “€œsmall school”€ from the former Hyde Park High School Complex, and moved into the former Grover Cleveland building three years ago.

I was invited to visit CASH by High School History Coach Michelle Morrissey, and warmly welcomed by the headmaster and her staff. The school’s hallways encourage a focus on achievement: outside the main office is a “€œWall of Dreams”€ displaying individual students’ career goals; further on, I noted exemplary student work posted under the title “€œAre your notes THIS good?”€

Having just finished discussing the circumstances that give rise to slums, students in one class were watching the film Slumdog Millionaire. In another they were studying constitutional amendments, having chosen the two they thought most important. Student teacher Shauntel Garner-Anderson was leading them in a lively conversation about what happened in Trayvon Martin’s case. Andrea Doremus-Cuetara was helping her class of English Language Learners understand the vocabulary and protocol of debating.

In a crowded music class, under the direction of teacher Ian Glaude, students were practicing on keyboards, trumpets and trombones. A variety of science and math classes were also in session. Autumn Tobin had her Environmental Science class tossing coins to investigate population growth, while Taiwo Stephenson‘s chemistry students were taking notes on chemical reactions and biology teacher Kelly Best‘s tenth graders were labeling a drawing of the human heart.

Throughout this still small high school I saw lots of evidence to support Junior Rashea Ivey-Lewis’s earnest comment: “€œI really like how our teachers interact with us, sitting down and explaining things step by step.”€


Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.