The Edward M. Kennedy Health Careers Academy (EMK) is an in-district charter high school with two “campuses” – grades 9 and 10 meet at “Fenwood” near Brigham Circle, while “Fenway” houses grades 11 and 12 at Northeastern University. 

The Fenway building is a maze of small classrooms on three floors and hallways covered with large, student-made breast cancer awareness posters. Tenth graders in Kevin Robins chemistry class are learning about the periodic table, while William Cotto helps students tackle polynomials in Algebra II. In Melissa Wender‘s AP Literature class, seniors are working with the Actors Shakespeare Project in preparation for seeing a performance of Macbeth.

In Theater Arts with Stephanie Marson Lee, 11th graders are working off campus learning to score monologues with a representative of the Huntington Theatre Company. Another community partner is Big Brother, Big Sister, whose staff members teach a Career & College Prep course at EMK and link all ninth and tenth graders with adult mentors, who have weekly online contact and attend a monthly dinner at the school.

Students take Spanish with Lydia King Márquez in ninth/tenth grade and French in their junior and senior years with Danielle Jean, where they are currently studying the Haitian Revolution.

EMK has a serious commitment to health career studies and every student graduates with Nursing Assistant certification. At the Fenwood campus, ninth graders are practicing for “Vital Signs Day” under the supervision of health teachers Amanda Khatcherian and Justine Lyons, who is also a licensed nurse. Students introduce themselves to volunteer “patients” and explain the tests, possible results and what they might mean, then take blood pressure, oxygen and about a half dozen other readings. I was impressed by their knowledge and professionalism!

Teachers at EMK show they care about students and one another in many ways. Biology teacher Victoria Bartow has her students do weekly reflections every Friday, then responds to their questions and comments with a regular class email on Sunday evenings that includes a summary of what they worked on during the week and information about upcoming activities and assignments. Dean of School Culture, Paul Young, tells me that weekly Advisories meet in Restorative Justice circles, and Sandra Munique is a cluster substitute who says what makes the school special is being “surrounded by love!”

Thanks for all YOU do every day to support your students and colleagues!

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Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.