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Schools with a Relationship Culture say, “You are always my student. You can graduate from my school, but I stay with you. I stay with your family. I will judge my success not by your eighth-grade degree, but by your college degree.”

I see similar commitment at City Academy, where school runs through sixth grade but relationships never end. Nikki Doughty, the school’s Chief Operating Officer, can tell you the journey of just about every graduate. Many come back and work for her summers and school holidays.

City Academy is the only place I know that has a report card for parents. Parents are expected to stay engaged and encouraged to further their own education. Michelle Strawbridge, a parent who served on City Academy’s board, educated me about the career lift family members tend to see as their children make their way through City Academy, secondary school and college. Her son Michael is a junior at Beloit College, and Marshall starts this fall at Manhattan College. Families support each other, the school supports parents, and students stay on track.

If you graduate from City Academy, chances are you’ll find yourself volunteering for summer camp. City Academy may sponsor you for youth leadership programs. You may even find yourself asked to be the alumni speaker at City Academy graduation, as Sydni Hall was this year, sharing her journey from City Academy to MICDS to Loyola-Chicago as her MICDS-bound brother beamed with pride in the front row.

Two Saturdays a month, you’ll spend three hours on campus at Washington University in the STRIVE for College program. Fifty college students support City Academy students with one-on-one mentoring, and an amazing 100% of its STRIVE students matriculate to college. Stephanie Briggs, who spent her Saturdays as a STRIVE student, is now – as a rising Washington University junior – a STRIVE mentor.

That’s more than Building Culture. That’s Relationship Culture.

Learn more about our unique mission

 Excerpt from “What ‘To and Through’ Looks Like in St. Louis Schools” by Michael Zuccarello, City Academy volunteer and former Board of Trustee

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