The Josiah Quincy Upper School has served students in grades 6-12 since 1999. The middle school (grades 6-7) is located across the street from the Quincy Elementary School on the dge of Chinatown, and high school classes meet in a separate building a short walk away. About half of this year’s 500+ students are Asian American, and all study Mandarin.

The school follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program and students had just completed their IB exams when I visited in June. Middle school teachers Alicia Reines-Leo (science) and Melanie Smith (humanities) say they appreciate the freedom to create their own curriculum. Chad Faulkner begins his classes with a 15-minute discussion of IB profile characteristics, such as “risk-taking” or “open-minded” or “reflective” – helping students understand ways they might behave in everyday experience.

Tenth graders are on an all day trip to Vertex world headquarters with teacher Shelly Wen, where they conduct experiments with Vertex scientists. In her eighth grade humanities class, Michelle Dean asks students to look at documents by analyzing their origin, purpose, value, and limitations. In Kam Ho Lau’s math class, seventh graders are finding the surface area of 3-dimensional shapes.

Humanities teacher Gabrielle Heru is helping a ninth grade student revise her speech – written from the perspective of a French Revolutionary woman. Many classes have public speaking guidelines posted on the walls; in one middle school classroom I see a sign that says, “Speak with passion or not at all.” An interesting exhortation!

Instrumental Music teacher Teresa Herfindahl works with a trio of seniors as they practice a piece for the upcoming awards ceremony. In art class, Jamie Andrade is teaching her students how to do embroidery. What she likes best about being at Josiah Quincy Upper School is its “growth orientation – our school doesn’t fail students, they’re ‘just not there yet.'”

Please invite me to visit YOUR school this year!

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Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.