It’s been almost 2 years since I started this blog and the main goal from the start was to provide examples of students using technology and web 2.0 with everyday lessons and projects. While some posts occasionally deviate from this theme, the majority are about the work of students at my school – the Jesuit Middle School of Omaha.
This school, at which I’ve been a faculty member for 6 years, is unique in a number of ways. First off, the school is all-boys (possibly the only 4th-8th all boys school in the U.S.). Secondly, it is 100% minority, though open to anyone. The school is Catholic, but most of our students are not and we regularly bring in pastors from other churches in the community to our weekly prayer services. Students pay a monthly tuition of $70, though no student is turned away for inability to pay (some pay as little as $5 a month or contribute service hours). Each student receives a scholarship of over $5000 from the school funded through private donations.
JMSO was started in 1996 as a joint collaboration between local Jesuits and a number of church, school, and community leaders in the African-American community here in Omaha. In an effort to reach at-risk youth before they fell victim to the influence of gangs and the street, it was decided to start the school at 4th grade. Omaha has one of the highest per capita rates of black poverty and violence in the U.S. and many of our students live in neighborhoods where the threat of gun-violence is very real.Â The reality of this was made all too clear when one of our students, Kamren S., was inadvertently killed as a result of gunfire in 2007.
Despite the challenges faced by many of our students, JMSO has been a beacon of hope.Â Graduates of JMSO have a 98% high school graduation rate and 65% go on to college.Â It is a wonderful place to work and the students are very inspiring.Â Every year, for Black History Month, we have an all-school program where each class gives a presentation about some aspect of Black History.Â For my classes, this always means a movie that takes us back in time.Â This year was Lost in Time 6: A JMSO Biography.Â To learn a little more about our school, check it out.