Nativity Preparatory School is an independent, tuition-free middle school for boys from low-income families in the New Bedford area. The school provides a challenging and supportive learning environment, where motivated students of all faiths are offered an intellectual, cultural, physical and moral education.
The goal is to graduate young men who are academically prepared for further education, inspired to lead their lives with humility, and dedicated to serving others.
Founded by a group of Catholic lay people, Nativity opened its doors in the Fall of 2000 to twelve 5th- and 6th-grade boys from low income families from the greater New Bedford area. What they would embark on was a school year unlike anything they or their teachers had ever experienced. Executive Director Barry Hynes, former teacher at Nativity Mission School in New York, and founder of Nativity Preparatory School of Boston, responded to the request of a sponsoring foundation to start such a school in New Bedford. He recruited a principal with teaching experience at NP Boston and, with three mission-driven teachers committed to working six days (and many evenings) a week as classroom teachers, coaches, janitors, advisors, and office staff, worked to adapt the Nativity model to New Bedford. This highly committed volunteer model remains a pillar of the school’s success today.
Having expanded dramatically in its first years of operation, Nativity now boasts an annual enrollment of approximately 55 students total in grades 5-8. While approximately half of Nativity Prep graduates have gone on to local public high schools, including Greater New Bedford Regional Voc-Tech High School and Bristol County Agricultural School among others, many students have ventured farther afield, to schools such as Deerfield Academy, Groton School, St. Paul’s School, Tabor Academy, and Boston College High School.
No tuition is charged; funds are raised through contributions from friends, sponsors, corporations and foundations. Following the Nativity format, the operating budget is small, as all teachers receive only room, board, health insurance and a modest stipend. Most work for two years; some stay longer.
While rooted in Jesuit traditions, the school has no diocesan affiliation; students, teachers and staff come from a variety of faith backgrounds. The students are not required to study a single catechism but are exposed to the history and development of a diversity of faiths as a base for understanding values and ethical behavior. Service to community is a part of our heritage and permeates the culture of the school.
Our model offers a life-changing experience through educational enrichment to committed and promising young men of New Bedford. We emphasize students’ responsibility to give back to their community and instill in the students a goal to return as teachers one day. To that end, we have recently instituted a graduate support program that encourages recent alumni to return for evening study and monitors the academic progress of our graduates.
Working jointly with the Mattapoisett YMCA, our mandatory summer program for all students in July has been in place since the founding of the school. Following one hour of math and English study each morning, students have an afternoon of swimming, sailing, and other activities they may not be exposed to in their neighborhoods. This additional summer month extends our reach to the students to eleven months each year, up to six days a week and twelve hours on a school day.
For more information see the Nativity Miguel Coalition website: www.nativitymiguel.org