Young Achievers School readies for move to Mattapan

The Young Achiever's K-8 Pilot School is on a quest to make a summer time move from its current location in Jamaica Plain into the Solomon Lewenberg Middle School in Mattapan a smooth transition.

"We had a big kickoff breakfast for community partners last week [Friday]," said Principal Jinny Chalmers. "We're also reaching out to all of the families of the kids in the sixth and seventh grade at the Lewenberg."

As part of Superintendent Carol Johnson's Pathways to Excellence program, the school of 359 students in a cozy building in Jamaica Plain will relocate to the Lewenberg on Walk Hill Street and expand to 600 students. Some 225 of those will be in the seventh and eighth grades for the first year in Mattapan, and the earlier grades will grow as those students graduate.

The school, formerly drawing in students citywide, will become a part of the East Zone next year and West Zone students and their families will be grandfathered in.

Some of the concerns Chalmers hears from Lewenberg students are fears of the eight-hour school day used at Young Achievers, and also fears that the school is focused on over-achievers and not kids who might need extra help.

"I don't think it's very much different than any other school, but because of the name people think we're at an advanced level," said Chalmers. "It's not. We get students like any other school. We try get all students to achieve at a higher level."

The focus at YA is on science and math and on building a "democratic participatory" partnership with students and parents.

Chalmers is planning a number of ways to engage the community in the move. The school can be reached at 617-635-6804.