Among the factors that determine a student’s likelihood to attend college, middle school figures prominently. Performance during grades six through nine tends to set in motion a pattern that dictates whether or not a young person will pursue higher education.
In San Bernardino, there is yet another hurdle: the area holds the highest dropout and lowest college attendance rates in the country. New Vision Middle School’s founders recognized the need for a solution and established their charter school in 2009.
As a charter school, New Vision affords students a luxury that its district counterparts often cannot – individualized attention. Principal Javier Hernandez believes making education personal is the key to connecting with students. “The typical middle schools here are easily over 1,000 students, whereas we have 300. Because we are a smaller school, we’re able to know the students. They know us. And we’re able to build a relationship with the students as well as their parents.”
And that relationship ultimately lays the groundwork for a shift in attitude. New Vision students are empowered to take a vested interest in their education, often for the first time, which inspires them to see college as a practical, attainable goal.
For Principal Hernandez, that simple realization lies at the heart of New Vision’s mission. “That’s the thing that we see here with our students—they suddenly see that education is important and want to try and do well in their classes so that they can go to college,” he said.
Considering New Vision’s contribution to the community, it’s hard to imagine life without the school. But, Alex Lucero, its executive director remembers the challenges they faced when opening their doors four years ago.
“We decided to open up in the midst of a California crisis where there were state budget cuts in education and funding deferrals in place. We didn’t know when our state funding was going to hit our bank account, “ he said.
Fortunately, New Vision reached out to Charter School Capital, giving us the opportunity to provide both monetary and informational support—the latter proving a welcome resource for Lucero and his team.
“I’m a double business major, have a master’s in education and have been working in charter schools for several years. But looking at the financial materials didn’t explain anything to me,” said Lucero. “Charter School Capital was able to assist with that.”