Boston Harbor Association kids jumping

Doors Open

"Doors Open" is a new short film featuring three schools that opened their doors for the very first time in Boston this fall. Each school is a compelling story—of vision, mission, and bright hopes for kids. Looked at together in this film, they are also part of an even bigger story about breakthroughs in old debates about public education.

When I was growing up, I always loved the first day of school. A crisp new dress. Sharpened pencils in my backpack. Even in my Southern California farm town, there was a slight September chill in the air. It all filled me with anticipatory joy.

I felt the same way this fall when the doors opened for the very first time at three new public schools in Boston: the Margarita Muñiz Academy, the city’s first two-way bilingual Spanish-English High School; the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School, a partnership between a great neighborhood organization and a teacher-training program modeled after medical residencies in teaching hospitals; and KIPP Academy Boston, a middle school launched by a national network of high-performing charter schools.

Doors Open - Dudley

On their own each of these new schools offers a compelling story—of vision, mission, and bright hopes for kids. Yet, looked at together, they are also part of an even bigger story about breakthroughs in old debates about public education. These schools were all made possible by new education legislation passed in 2010. “An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap” gave Massachusetts districts like Boston new tools for helping struggling schools, and also for expanding their portfolio of choices with new, innovative schools, like Muñiz, Dudley, and KIPP Boston. Since the 2010 act was passed, Barr has dedicated a portion of its education funding to helping schools like these get off to a strong start.

Doors Open - Muniz

These schools also exemplify a new conversation underway in Boston—one that is flipping the script on the historically chilly relationship between charter and traditional district schools. As Boston’s historic “District-Charter Compact” makes plain (see “Mayor Menino, BPS and Charter Schools Present Boston's First District Charter Compact” or “Come Together Right Now”), there is a new openness by Boston Public Schools to collaborate in meaningful ways with a wide variety of school operators, including charter and parochial schools.

Doors Open - KIPP

Watching the Muñiz Academy, Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School, and KIPP Academy Boston come to life over the past year—setting up classrooms, recruiting families, planning lessons, and more—has been inspiring and informing on many levels. To capture the energy, excitement, and magic of their very first first days and a view of that bigger story as it continues to unfold, we engaged a documentary film maker, (Unrendered Films), to produce a short film.

The result is Doors Open, an eleven-minute glimpse of the hope and possibility that we want all of our children to feel on their first day of school.

Enjoy!

Doors Open

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Melinda Marble

Guest Author · Former Deputy Director