Codman Academy Charter Public School
Founded in 2001, Codman Academy Charter Public School was the first charter school to serve the Codman Square/Four Corners neighborhood of Dorchester, one of Boston’s most economically challenged inner-city areas.
Codman Academy’s rigorous academic program includes a 43-hour school week that runs from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday and 9:00am to noon on Saturday. It is an Expeditionary Learning School, which requires students to participate in weekly off-campus fieldwork where students engage in meaningful learning experiences in real-world contexts. Before Codman Academy opened, the Huntington’s Education Department was asked to be one of the school’s founding partners and to help develop Codman’s humanities curriculum by incorporating study of the Huntington’s productions. Today, theatre work with the Huntington’s Education staff and teaching artists serves as one of the core fieldwork learning experiences in which all Codman students participate. The partnership has evolved and grown significantly over the last 15 years, and has been instrumental in helping students achieve academic success and personal growth. This school-wide partnership features three major access points:
- The 9th and 10th Grade Humanities program helps students develop their literacy, public speaking, and group collaboration skills through the study of performance, dramatic literature, and poetry. This program serves as the required Humanities fieldwork for all 9th and 10th grade students and is an essential component of the Humanities curriculum at Codman.
- The Summer Theatre Institute and Saturday Shakespeare Class provide additional performance opportunities for self-selecting students. In the Summer Theatre Institute, 20 students from grades 9-12 rehearse a full-scale production culminating in public performances (see below for more information on this program). The Saturday Shakespeare Class is an elective for juniors and seniors where they explore approaches to performing Shakespearean monologues and other challenging solo-performance texts. Both offerings build upon skills taught in the 9th and 10th Grade Humanities program.
- Full-school engagement opportunities such as attendance at the Huntington’s Student Matinees and additional project-based performance coaching and consultation from the Huntington’s Education staff have resulted in the deep integration of theatre and performance work into Codman Academy’s approach to teaching and learning.
In addition to the productions they attend with their Humanities class or as a school, all Codman students receive at Student Club Card that entitles them to two free tickets to every Huntington production until they turn 21. Throughout the history of the partnership, Codman students have also participated in many of the Huntington’s other Education programs.
Huntington-Codman Summer Institute
The Summer Theatre Institute is a five-week program for Codman students interested in exploring the full theatrical process by rehearsing a full-scale production of a classic play, usually by William Shakespeare. Students engage in a process that closely mirrors that of professional theatre productions; Daily rehearsals include warm-ups, acting exercises to help students delve deeper into their characters and the world of the play, and blocking and scene work. Technical and dress rehearsals that include lights, sound, and costumes prepare the cast for final performances at one of the Huntington Theatre Company’s professional venues.
The program leverages the enthusiasm of self-selecting students who are seeking opportunities to further develop performance skills they learned during the academic year. Beyond introducing students to advanced acting and ensemble work, the Summer Theatre Institute instills the values of individual focus, commitment, and accountability that are necessary for success in any field. Equally important, the Institute also provides a safe environment for the participants who come from some of Boston’s most challenging urban neighborhoods, as urban youth violence tends to increase during the summer.