Less than a year after graduating from Boston College, several BC grads-Genevieve Dusing, Abby Stemper, Allison Holcombe, and Michael Francke, all BC ’12-who are working just down Comm. Ave. from the Heights-as full-time tutors at a public charter high school. Match Corps is a yearlong volunteer program that runs August through July, constituting a fulltime tutoring position at one of Match Education’s three public charter schools, and Dusing, a double major in biology and Spanish, decided last spring that joining the Corps was a good way to spend the first year after college.
Since last August, Dusing has been living and working at the Match High School (MHS), a charter school located at the intersection of Babcock Street and Commonwealth Avenue, as part of the ninth cycle of Match Corps. She’s currently one of 42 tutors who work at MHS, and one of 35 who live at the school as well. “I’m a fulltime math tutor-I work with freshmen and sophomores daily in an hour-long tutorial period, either 3-on-1 or 1-on-1 if it’s a special ed student,” Dusing said. “We work very closely with students, not only in school, but building kind of an outside relationship. We’re responsible for talking to parents once a week or every other week-updating them, telling them how their kid is doing in classes, in tutorial.”
Match Education’s mission, as stated on their website, is in part “to generate four-year college completion results that are better than any other U.S. public school serving low-income students … our graduate school has to produce novice teachers who are better than all other novice teachers in the U.S. at generating measurable achievement gains for low-income students.” Furthermore, Match seeks to serve as a “research and development platform for long-term reform … What our work invariably lacks in absolute size it has to compensate for in intellectual power and reform relevance. Our inventions have to be compelling enough to matter, over time.”
Match began this mission when MHS opened its doors in 2000, and the organization has been steadily working to expand and improve upon its undertaking ever since. A charter middle school in Jamaica Plains opened in 2008-students there are now at the age where they can feed into the high school. Students must go through a random lottery to be admitted to either school, but once in, younger siblings in the same family are also guaranteed admittance. Match Education also runs Match Community Day School, opened in 2011, which is targeted at students who are learning English as a second language, and is also located in Jamaica Plains.
Furthermore, in 2008, Match also began a master’s program called Match Teacher Residency (MTR). Members of MTR tutor Monday through Thursday, and then spend their Fridays and Saturdays taking graduate school classes at the high school, working on practical applications and teaching techniques.
“This is the first year it’s actually a graduate school,” Dusing said. “They won’t get a master’s after they complete this year-they guarantee getting you a job. Not necessarily in Boston, but at a charter school somewhere in the country-they have a phenomenal networking system in the MTR program. They guarantee getting you a job at a school, and then they’ll observe you and evaluate you for two years and make sure that you’re doing a good job, that you’re very much above average … based on y our effectiveness and your evaluations, they’ll give you your master’s, or not.”
Dusing, who is not a part of the MTR program, said that much of her tutor training focused on reinforcing the Match philosophy, and learning the culture of Match at the school. Tutors also practiced their teaching techniques, learning how to give and respond to feedback.
“One of the staples of Match Education is the idea of feedback,” Dusing said. “I, for instance, work with nine students-freshmen and sophomores-very closely … I am in constant contact with their teachers. One of the cool things about Match, and specifically the high school-we had two weeks of training in August, and by the end of those two weeks, we had to know all of the 260-some kids in the school … Even though I may only work with those particular students, I would say that by this point I know 90, 95 percent of the students on a first-name basis by face. They know me, I know them … all the teachers know every student, whether they work with them or not, administrators know every student very, very well.”
She continued, stressing the closeness of the staff and administrators at Match. “It has that family-oriented feel-you stay very much connected while you’re there, and when you leave,” Dusing said. “If you leave.” She noted that about half of the current teachers and administrators were involved with the Corps at one point. In fact, Dusing and her fellow tutors are not the only BC alumni living out the mission of “men and women for others” at Match. Match Education’s COO, Mike Larsson, BC ’04, was part of Match Corps 1, and served as the Director of the Annual Fund for Boston College High School for a time.
“It’s a no-excuses charter school, which means that no matter your background, no matter your socioeconomic status, you have every opportunity and every possibility to go to college and beyond,” Dusing said. “They don’t just want kids to get into college. You want to get into college, be successful, graduate college, and find something to do.”