The Jeremiah E. Burke High School is located at 60 Washington Street in the Grove Hall Section of Dorchester, MA. In 1995, it found itself in the unenviable position of becoming the first Massachusetts public high school in recent memory to lose accreditation. Five million dollars and four year later, it regained its accreditation in 1998. In addition, the building received a nearly $50 million renovation to accommodate both school programs and the community.
Of the 603 9-12 graders that attended the Burke during the 2013-2014 school year, 75.3% were African –American, 19.9% were Hispanic, 2% were White, and 0.8% were Asian. 53.9% of the student were male and 46.1% were female. 71.1% were classified as low-income.
Their mission and expectation for student learning is to encourage a rigorous pursuit of academic excellence and social development to promote life-long learning and realize the personal goals and ambitions of all students. Our goal as a diverse community of faculty, staff, parents, community and business partners is to provide students with learning experiences that foster the love of learning through the cultivation of critical thinking skills and effective problem-solving abilities that they can implement in their everyday lives. Graduates of the Jeremiah E. Burke High School will be competent and informed, able to function successfully in an increasingly technologically advanced society, sufficiently prepared for a wide variety of post-secondary pursuits.
According to the Burke’s 2013-2014 School Report Card, personalized learning in longer teaching blocks with specialized academies leads to strong relations between students and staff. Solid partnerships support academic and enrichment programs. City Year Corps members provide near peer mentoring. Innovative teaching practices are in place. BTR & RBT trained teachers lead and support classroom instruction, Curriculum and training by John Hopkins University and Diploma now. The workshop model is used in every classroom as the model of instruction with focus on scaffolding and differentiation. Student learning is optimized in smaller class size with more than one adult in most cases. UMass Boston offers Urban Scholars and Project Reach programs, Benjamin Franklin, Bunker Hill and Roxbury Community Colleges also provide our students with afterschool learning opportunities, including dual enrollment. Our new partnership with Verizon offers SAT prep support in a mobile lab using online software and tutors from Northeastern University. The Red & Blue foundation operates a student center that provides academic support to our athletes during and beyond school hours. Private Industry Council and Quantum Opportunities work with students around youth development strategies and practices around job based skills and placement. Village Automotive and Keys to Success rewards for performance, regular on-time attendance. The Calderwood Foundation funds a literary magazine showcasing student’s writing and art work. Our partnerships with Boston College School of Mental Health and Simmons College afford us the means to provide counseling services to all students. The school offers transformation opportunities for students, including travel to other states and countries, retreats and overnight camping trips.
Despite the school’s efforts and partnerships, it remains a Level 4 school. A Level 4 School is one that is among the lowest achieving and least improving schools with a persistently low graduation rate. Their SAT Reasoning Test scores are substantially below those of the cumulative City of Boston scores as well as those of the entire Commonwealth.
There are certainly bright spots at the Burke – Tim Ferris spoke to an entrepreneurial class in 2014, their multimedia/gaming program for students who have an interest in Multimedia, Engineering or Gaming Design, and a Marine Corp J.R.O.T.C program. Hopefully the success and excitement around these programs can expand throughout the remaining curriculum.