How long has Nativity Preparatory Academy been open?
Nativity Preparatory Academy opened its doors in September 2009, after the McQuaid Jesuit High School Board of Directors and the leadership of Sisters of St. Joseph recognized the need for a quality school specifically designed for inner-city students in Rochester. The decision to base the school on the Nativity middle school model was due to the model’s exceptional success nationwide.
Nativity schools have been around since way back in 1971, when the Society of Jesus founded the very first one in the lower east side of Manhattan. Since then, the Nativity model has expanded to include 49 schools across the country—and has 7,231 graduates and alumni.
How is Nativity Preparatory Academy different from other middle schools?
Nativity Preparatory Academy is different because of our students—and because of how we teach them.
Our students come from a variety of diverse backgrounds, with more than 20 nationalities and multiple faith traditions represented. But they all have several things in common: they have not been well served by the schools they attended and are several years behind grade level when they first arrive at Nativity; and they come from families that while economically challenged, truly care about education.
To help them catch up, our academic program is much more extensive than at other middle schools. The typical day runs from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm and includes academic classes, afternoon sports, fine arts activities, study hall sessions with individual tutoring, and three meals. Students also attend Saturday sessions for enrichment activities and field trips, as well as a three-week summer program that combines academics with leadership exercises and camp activities. All of this adds up to more than 550 additional “contact hours” per year. Plus, our student-faculty ratio of seven students to each faculty member ensures that all students get the individual attention they need.
This intensive program is geared to accelerate students’ academic progress. Along with our daily attendance rate of approximately 95%, it certainly does, it also helps to promote their social development, physical well-being, and understanding of themselves. All these things lead to an experience of dramatically higher levels of sustainable success for our students.
How does the Nativity model work?
On average, inner-city schools typically have high school graduation rates hovering near 50%. It’s a significant problem not only for the school district, but for the entire community in wrestling with issues such as employment, homelessness, and hunger.
Since a Nativity middle school education prepares students with a rigorous, holistic education, more than 90% of Nativity school students graduate from high school. This, in turn, will continue to plant seeds of educational success throughout our urban communities.
Of those who graduate, more than 80% will enroll in a two- or four-year college. Also, the average daily attendance level at Nativity schools is 95%, dramatically higher than the average in most city schools.
Our school celebrated its first graduation in June 2012 and all 11 graduates were accepted at one of Rochester’s college preparatory Catholic high schools—McQuaid Jesuit, Our Lady of Mercy, Bishop Kearney, and Aquinas Institute. We now have more than 50 graduates enrolled in these and other college preparatory high schools. Our first-class graduated from high school in June of 2016. Over 70% of those students moved on to higher education. One of the graduates was in the Top 10 of her graduating class!
One reason for this success can be found in our extensive Graduate Support Program. In addition to our extended academic program, this ensures a seamless transition to high school, a positive acclimation process, and continuous skills development. We like to think it’s because we teach students to enjoy learning. Our students truly want to be here. And we work to ensure that they stay connected to the school and our ongoing support as they continue their academic and life journey long after their 8th-grade graduation from Nativity.