We offer a high school diploma. The diploma is earned through a process of popular education that honors the life experience of participants, is focused on social justice, and uses a collaborative, student-centered learning model.
The curriculum begins with the students’ life experiences, asking them to use the knowledge they already have to critically examine subject matter in light of their experience. It includes the subject matter of traditional high school subject areas with the themes eco-justice and art and culture interwoven throughout.
The theme of eco-justice reflects the ethical legacy of our namesake, Sister Dorothy Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who was one of the first martyrs of the struggle for environmental justice for the people and lands of the Brazilian rain forest. In 2005, at the age of 73, Dorothy was assassinated for defending campesinos against big landowners.
To honor their cultures, students worked collaboratively with the guidance of Brazilian-born visual artist Mirtes Zwierzynski to create a mural that represents their histories and journey here.
Our night school program is demanding. Classes meet from 6 to 9 pm Monday through Thursday. Graduation follows nine months of class discussions, group projects, science experiments, visits to art galleries, and participation in a poetry night. We offer credits for life experience.
Since our founding in 2003, our graduation rate has been about 95%. This high rate is achieved because students form a community of learners and support each other through a life-changing program. By contrast, the completion GED rate for Latinos is between 5 and 15%.
Our school is unique. First, faculty, administrators, and board members are all volunteers dedicated to transformative education. Secondly, our school emphasizes the moral imperative to promote social justice as a goal of education.