Register for What Matters Most: EL Education 2020 Virtual Summit
Header image

Tapestry Charter School Parent Commentary

  • Date

  • Author

    Ben Smith

Tapestry Charter School Parent Faye Scott talks about why Tapestry High School is a true success story

from the Buffalo News

A common question these days is what makes a high-quality education. The question’s relevance is especially pressing in a city like Buffalo. And yet, in one of the poorest cities in the nation, where rates of unemployment, high school truancy and homicide are all in double digits, an amazing group of high school students thrives at Tapestry Charter High School. I am a proud parent of one of those students.

In the midst of Buffalo’s hardships and poverty, Tapestry High School takes a different approach to helping a diverse group of children achieve success. Tapestry opened in September 2006 under the leadership of Joy Pepper and Lynn Bass. They had a vision of opening an expeditionary learning school where teaching and learning would be active and challenging, and where small community and personal relationships could be keys to student success.

The school demanded open-mindedness and excellence; the administration, staff, parents and students embraced new and innovative ideas. The parents formed a Parent Advisory Group and we wrote Tapestry’s bylaws and decided on school structure and governance. Faculty members are hand picked and panel interviewed to make sure they’re a good fit, which means that all instructors must have a progressive way of teaching. The staff of Tapestry is second to none.

Tapestry-college-bound

From the moment students enter the school, its approach is unique in many important ways. For example, all freshmen attend an overnight camp for team-building with the faculty and staff. Freshmen are also assigned to a “crew” of students with a faculty adviser, and this same group stays together for all four years as a support and an anchor. All freshmen take part in a ceremonial signing of a pledge of commitment to themselves and the ideals of the school. These are just a couple of the extra steps Tapestry takes to make its students successful.

And success is not due to a privileged population of students. Tapestry High School serves a very diverse population because each student is picked through a random lottery. The students come from many socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural and scholastic backgrounds. Tapestry teaches all students how to give their best in both academics and character development. And, even with this diverse population of urban kids, the standardized test scores are as high as or higher than many suburban school districts.

Tapestry High School’s story is one of struggles, hope, dedication and success. In spite of the many setbacks in securing a permanent home due to the recession, Tapestry continued to expand and its focus and determination has not been deterred. The community is dedicated to success in the face of the odds, and despite the less-than- ideal transition building this past year, it worked because the kids, staff and parents volunteered time cleaning, painting and repairing the facilities.

I am proud to say that on June 24, 100 percent of the seniors (50 students) at Tapestry graduated and every student was accepted to at least one college.

In a time where you don’t always hear positive things about teenagers in the inner city, this is refreshing and truly inspiring.

President Obama is committed to expanding high quality charter schools, and Tapestry High School is already of the highest quality. It proves Buffalo’s need for new and progressive approaches, and we cannot afford to overlook it.