St. Martin de Porres is a tuition-free private middle school (grades 5-8) which enrolls students from low income families in the New Haven area, offering small class sizes usually with two teachers per class. The average student/teacher ratio is almost six to one, but the school day at St. Martin’s lasts 10 hours, and the school year stretches out to 11 months. Earlier this spring, academy administrators Allison Rivera and Charles Frey described the school’s curriculum to the North Haven Rotary Club as “comprehensive and holistic.”
The speakers explained that in addition to providing academic excellence, the staff also cultivates personal responsibility, social skills, and leadership balanced with a strong spiritual foundation. Many of their students go on to highly ranked secondary schools such as Fairfield Prep, Notre Dame, and Xavier.
School President Rivera told the audience that the school has been operational for about 8 years and proudly boasted that of the first class to go on to high school, 100 percent graduated, and all of those have been accepted to colleges. This statistic is based on a group of children who entered St. Martin’s at two to three grade levels behind students in traditional public schools.
Vice President for Advancement Charles Frey described how the community becomes the classroom when students take frequent field trips to a variety of locations to allow them to receive a more well-rounded education. He explained that even though their school is tuition-free, the families must make a commitment to insure that their children do not miss school; that they regularly complete their homework assignments; and the families must also contribute volunteer hours at the school.
Frey later stated, “With a pledge of ‘service above self’, Rotarians are keenly aware of their potential impact on the lives of others. We are grateful to the North Haven Rotary Club for its ongoing support and belief in the promise of education and opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our young people.”
Rivera indicated that St. Martin de Porres was the first middle school in the state to start an Interact Club, often referred to as Junior Rotary. She added that Rotary District 7980, of which North Haven is a part, “raised over 18 thousand dollars for this wonderful program”. The founding teacher, now academy president, proudly went on to say, “As a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar (1998), I know first-hand the power of the Rotary’s community engagement and transformation. I am grateful for Rotary’s ongoing support of our mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and opportunity.”