In 2002, the vestries of Christ Church of Andover and Grace Church of Lawrence convened to brainstorm on a joint high-impact project to serve Lawrence. After researching and reviewing a number of ideas, they agreed that the highest need and the largest opportunity for impact was to address the lack of high quality educational opportunities for young women from the city, and the best way to do this was to start an independent middle school for girls.
On June 3, 2004 the board of trustees held their first meeting at Christ Church in Andover. Trustees quickly got to work hiring a founding head of school, choosing a building and location for the new school, and ramping up fundraising efforts. On April 24, 2006, Esperanza held its first admissions lottery and selected 21 fifth graders and 21 sixth graders. On September 6, 2006, with balloons, music, and many friends and supporters on hand, Esperanza Academy opened its doors to its first students. For the following two years, Esperanza added one grade per year to reach capacity. Esperanza currently educates 60 middle school girls in grades five through eight, and supports 130 alumnae in secondary schools and colleges across the country. Esperanza graduated its first class of eighth graders in 2009; those young women graduated from high school in 2013 and are on track to finish college in 2017.
In 2015, Esperanza earned full accreditation from the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE).
At Esperanza Academy, students are admitted through a lottery to ensure all girls have an equal opportunity to access the exceptional education provided by the school. To be eligible for the lottery, students must be girls entering the 5th grade, be residents of Lawrence, qualify for free or reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program, and have an adult in their life who is willing to partner with Esperanza in their education. Esperanza is firmly committed to this admissions policy and it is a core tenet of our education model. The power of this system is proven by many of our alumnae who started at Esperanza two, three, or four years behind grade level and have gone on to thrive in high school and college.
Esperanza does make an exception for siblings. If an applicant meets the eligibility requirements and has an older sister who currently attends Esperanza or who graduated from the school, they are exempted from the lottery and granted admission.
Esperanza Academy is proud to provide an exceptional education to the young women of Lawrence. The four years that our girls spend on campus at Esperanza, from the ages of 10-14, are a time of tremendous physical, emotional, personal, and academic growth. We believe strongly that spending these four years surrounded and supported by female peers allows our students to maximize their growth, take healthy risks, and reach their full potential.
According to the National Coalition of Girls Schools, in a single-sex school, a girl can comprehend her value and her capabilities in ways that have nothing to do with how she looks or whom she dates. She can be free to experiment and explore, trying out new things and trying on new roles. She can follow her ambitions without wasting a second thought or a backward glance on how her male counterparts might perceive her. By subtracting boys an all-girls’ education adds opportunities. At a girls’ school, a girl occupies every role: every part in the play, every seat on the student government, every position on every team. Not only does she have a wealth of avenues for self-exploration and development; she has a wealth of peer role models. In an all-girls’ atmosphere, classroom dynamics shift. Alumnae often report that they could not “hide” in their school. Without the distraction of boys, girls can have a greater ability to focus on their work—and teachers can demand that such work meet the highest standards. Girls’ schools create a culture of achievement in which academic progress is of great importance, and the discovery and development of a girls’ individual potential is paramount. Time in the classroom is spent learning. When you combine strong female mentors and positive role models, reduced sex stereotyping in curriculum and classroom, and abundant learning opportunities, the results are clear. In the 1990s, a national study of secondary schools and colleges, The Case for Single-Sex Schools, showed that single-sex schools for females provide greater opportunity for educational attainment as measured by standardized cognitive tests, curriculum and course placement, leadership behavior, number of years of formal education, and occupational achievement.
For more information about the benefits of single-gender education please visit the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools at www.ncgs.org.
Esperanza Academy is a proud member of the NativityMiguel Coalition. The NativityMiguel Coalition is comprised of schools that are aligned in terms of mission, governance, core beliefs, and outcomes.
As such, member schools:
Serve the economically-poor
- Employ an independent governance structure with effective leadership
- Support graduates beyond graduation
- Engage the family as partners
- Extend the school day and year
- Articulate a commitment to excellence
- Demonstrate proven, consistent results in the development of the whole child
Deliver an explicitly faith-based education
- Are invested in the NativityMiguel Coalition
The 46 member schools are located in 18 states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian Provinces. NativityMiguel schools educate more than 3,300 students and support more than 5,300 graduates. For more information, please visit www.nativitymiguel.org.
Education in the Episcopal tradition is characterized by academic rigor, inclusivity, community service, and social justice involvement. These schools welcome people of all faiths, cultures, and economic backgrounds. The Episcopal experience at Esperanza Academy is thoughtfully planned with the understanding that spiritual growth is a vital part of an individual’s development.
During Morning Gathering, students and teachers partake in a daily moment of silence and reflection, and share readings that help center them for a long day of learning. Our bi-monthly, student-led chapels and Eucharist services help our girls to live more contemplative and intentional lives.
Each of our students is recognized for her individual skills, nurtured to discover and cultivate her talents, and loved and accepted by all faculty and staff. Students are encouraged to trust, respect, and support one another, and to recognize classmates’ academic successes and unique qualities. Esperanza Academy’s personification of community is one we hope our students internalize and emulate in all their own “communities” throughout their lives.
Social Justice and Service
All members of the Esperanza community are expected to honor and respect the dignity of every human being. In addition to teaching students to support and value all members of the Esperanza community, we believe in teaching our students about the joy, justice, and power of giving. Through monthly service projects, ranging from food drives to litter pick-up and beautification efforts, our students feel empowered to advance the common good through acts of renewal, caring, and kindness.
It is Esperanza Academy’s conviction that successful participation in a global community is greatly supported by the development of religious literacy and serious engagement with religious tradition. Themes of social justice, tolerance, and critical thinking skills are stressed throughout the curriculum. In fifth grade, students are introduced to the narratives of the Old Testament, which gives them an appreciation for the wisdom found in the text and its foundation for Jewish and Christian beliefs. Similarly, in sixth grade, students explore the narrative and histories of the New Testament. Girls are introduced to an interdisciplinary approach to the books of the New Testament through history, sociology, and theology. They review how historical realities of oppression and minority status lead to the creation of Christianity. In seventh grade, the curriculum focuses on Episcopal identity and service. Centered on a service-learning approach, girls develop character through service to others, academic case studies, and personal reflection. During their final year at Esperanza, eighth grade students study the diversity of major world religions and learn to foster environments of tolerance, curiosity, and respect.
For more information, please visit www.episcopalschools.org.
Esperanza Academy is proud to serve and be part of the historic community of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Our “Immigrant City” was incorporated in 1840 and was the nation’s first planned industrial city. After decades prospering in the mill industry, Lawrence became home to thousands of immigrants from Europe. The first wave of Latino immigrants began in the 1960s. Currently, our population is majority of Puerto Rican or Dominican descent.
In 2012 Lawrence was named the 18th poorest city in the country. Poverty, a failing public school system, and lack of resources created a dismal reality for the youth of Lawrence. Esperanza Academy was created to combat these statistics and give young women in Lawrence the opportunity to excel through education. We encourage our girls to become global citizens and leaders, but to never forget their roots in Lawrence.
There is growing hope in the city and there are many organizations working to make the city a better place to live, work, and grow. The Lawrence Public School system is experiencing a significant revitalization and more and more opportunities are available for our youth. We are thrilled to partner and collaborate with multiple local organizations such as the YMCA, YWCA, the Essex Art Center, Lazarus House, and Groundwork Lawrence. Esperanza is proud to serve and be part of this inspiring community!