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Shaping Success in the South Valley

Albuquerque Collegiate, a high-performing charter school located in the South Valley of Albuquerque, is making significant strides in elementary-level education, as displayed by the Public Education Department’s rating which puts the school in the “excellence” category.

Founded in 2018 by Jade Rivera, the school’s mission is to provide a “structured and ambitious” education to its students while overcoming the challenges typically faced by low income students.

When the school first opened it served kindergarten and first grade students, and has grown one grade level per year since then. “Next year we’ll be starting our expansion into middle school grades starting with sixth grade,” Rivera said.

The school is nestled in an unconventional location, a shopping center with a mercado and a Family Dollar as neighbors.

“It is critically imperative to us that we are in a community that needs access to an excellent education, and every family should be able to have that in their backyard,” Rivera said.

Excellent Education

In November the New Mexico Public Education Department released data highlighting Albuquerque Collegiate’s achievements, with 68 percent of students proficient in reading, 31 percent in math, and 38 percent in science. Albuquerque Collegiate is outperforming the state in  each of these metrics; in reading, the school has twice the proficiency of the state, with the state resting at 34 percent.

“We know from the recent data that [our school’s success] is very traditionally and historically not true for the southwest quadrant of the city,” Rivera said. “So it’s really important for us that we are providing a game-changing education for our families right here in the South Valley, southwest mesa area.”

The school’s success in English language arts is particularly noteworthy, with proficiency rates exceeding 68 percent for third through fifth graders. Rivera said, “Our kindergarten through second-grade scholars have a higher proficiency rate than that.”

“Those foundations have to start really early, and so we model a really intensive and highly supportive structured literacy program starting in kindergarten for most of our students,” Rivera said, explaining that Albuquerque Collegiate employs a unique teaching model. This model has two fully licensed teachers co-teaching in each kindergarten through second grade classroom.

The school’s emphasis on student engagement is evident through its commitment to maximizing instructional time. Rivera explains, “We know that more time means more learning, and we want to maximize those minutes.”

Albuquerque Collegiate’s relationship with parents and families is a vital component of its success, Rivera said. “We are tremendously fortunate to be able to work as really close partners with our families and see our work as a true partnership.”

She further emphasizes the school’s commitment to accessibility, stating, “We do not ask our families to pay for uniforms; we do not ask our families to pay for school supplies.” Albuquerque Collegiate also offers students and their families the opportunity to schedule appointments with mental health professionals, regardless of their ability to pay.

Wrap it up Wednesday

All work and no play is not the school’s strategy for success. On top of rigorous support for its students and faculty, the school pushes hard to make sure that students have an opportunity to express their energy and pride for their class while reflecting on lessons they learned at school.

“Wrap it up Wednesday” is an integral part of Albuquerque Collegiate’s unique approach to education, emphasizing not only academic excellence but also the celebration of student achievements and the cultivation of a growth mindset. Rivera describes it as “a common element we’ve identified from high-performing charter schools across the country,” where the focus is on acknowledging and uplifting students’ efforts and progress.

During “Wrap it up Wednesday,” students and teachers gather to recognize outstanding accomplishments, both in academics and character development. “We want our students to take pride in their learning and understand that their hard work is valued,” she said. This initiative goes beyond simply honoring top-performing students; it celebrates the determination and dedication of every student, instilling in them the belief that effort and resilience are essential for success.

Students rally together in the school building, each carrying the banner of the college their class represents. Each classroom is tasked with coming up with a school chant to celebrate the college their school is named for, but also represent their creativity within the classroom. Each class has leaders who help motivate their peers and lead the school chant. 

The rally offers students an opportunity to reflect on the school’s core values; respect, enthusiasm, achievement, courage, hard work and self determination. 

The event serves as a motivational tool, inspiring students to excel and continuously improve. “Wrap it up Wednesday” reinforces the idea that persistence and dedication are essential for personal growth and achievement.

Rivera said “Wrap it up Wednesday” is a testament to Albuquerque Collegiate’s dedication to nurturing well-rounded students who not only excel academically but also understand the value of hard work and perseverance in their educational journey.

As part of Warp it Up Wednesday, students at Albuquerque Collegiate receive certificates when they have accomplished their goals.
Students at Albuquerque Collegiate, representing their Clemson Tigers-themed class, perform their class song during Wrap it Up Wednesday.