Welcome to Paul Cuffee School. As Head of School, in hopes that I will soon make your acquaintance, it is my pleasure to welcome you to our website.
Paul Cuffee, the man, was a truly inspiring figure – A sea captain, a man of color (African and Wampanoag), a Quaker. Paul Cuffee’s life was one of adventure, courage, citizenship, and social justice. The son of a freed slave, he made his fortune as a sea captain. As a result of his success he sailed free slaves to Sierra Leone. He was one of the first black men to visit the White House. In the 18th century, in Westport, MA, Paul Cuffee founded what is perhaps the county’s first racially integrated school.
It’s amazing to think about it: a few dozen miles away here in Providence, yet over 300 years later, Mr. David Burnham, a beloved mentor and educator in the Providence community and beyond, partnered with Dr. Cyril Burke to establish a school that would be worthy of the namesake Paul Cuffee. Since its incorporation in 2001, the school has developed a strong academic curriculum with equal focus to the social and emotional growth needed for today’s youth. Today our school is a vibrant, joyful and inclusive learning community serving 774 students through an entire public school experience. From K to 12, our students represent the rich cultural tapestry found in the City of Providence.
High standards for student achievement and positive behavior, taught in a safe, predictable and supportive environment, combined with enriching experiences through the arts and marine-based activities provides for our students a firm foundation for lifelong success in learning and growth for youth ages 5-18.
At the Paul Cuffee Upper School (9-12), we focus on high academic achievement and social-emotional development so that students have the skills they need to excel. A highly skilled and supportive staff helps all individuals to become their best-possible selves and to learn deeply. Many of our students take advanced coursework, and we provide extensive academic supports for students experiencing difficulty. Through Advanced Placement (AP) courses students have the opportunity to earn credit and/or advanced placement for college. Student leadership is a core value here, where you will see student-led weekly All School Meetings, student senate, student-led yearbook program, student initiated clubs, student participation in the hiring process for staff, and a student-development social contract. Inquiry-based learning supports student voice and choice in classrooms. Students may plan and lead lessons, investigate real world problems, and even “teach for a day” at all three Paul Cuffee School campuses. Our teachers serve as advisors, communicating frequently with families about social-emotional development, school-wide community building, and college & career readiness. We have a highly successful athletics program and support an active band, chorus, visual arts and debate program.
Paul Cuffee students experience unique opportunities that students won’t get anywhere else: our students have studied abroad in Cape Verde alongside college students, investigated marine science for a week in Block Island, mastered the Spanish language at the Roger Williams University Summer Language Institute, and have improved their reading, writing and mathematics skills at Brown University Summer High School. They have built boats at the Community Boating Center, and have performed at Shakespeare in the City and Poetry Out Loud. Our partners in preparing Cuffee students for success in college, career, and life include: the University of Rhode Island; Rhode Island College; Providence College; Roger Williams University; Community Boating Center; and the Cranston YMCA. At the Upper School the quality of our community is central to our work.
Our Middle School caters to the developmental profile of the newly adolescent child, meeting the four critical adolescent needs of competency, relationship, autonomy and fun. Each grade level spends the year examining a year-long essential question that is built through lessons and inquiry in Mathematics, Science, and Humanities. In addition, students take Spanish, Art and Physical Education classes year-round. We pride ourselves in our teacher collaboration around units of study and taking a whole-team approach to student interventions. Our faculty and staff are trained in the practices of Developmental Designs, where classrooms combine strong academics with well-developed peer relationships, pro-social skills and attitudes, and an engaged sense of learning. Each student starts and ends every school day in advisory, which serves as a home base with the advisor being a primary advocate and mentor. We also offer high-quality sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities that take place after school. Throughout their middle school experience, our students climb mountains, explore museums, dig in nearby beaches, and trek to other cities all in search of new knowledge, experiences and questions.
The Lower School maintains a strong and continuous commitment to balancing academic and social needs of young children. We are supported by a caring and nurturing faculty and staff committed to meeting the individual needs of students. Offering a robust complement to the academic program, we integrate the arts, library media, visual arts, physical education and movement, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) which, launched last year, includes the exciting Sea Perch activities. The school hosts several family engagement events including Family Math and Literacy Night, Family Wellness Night, the annual Paul Cuffee play, and parent classes for learning the English language. The After School Club provides students with fun, engaging, and academically enriching activities to extend the learning that takes place during the school day and coordinates evening events to bring our families together as a community.
Paul Cuffee School is a unique K-12 school with a tradition of excellence and it has been dependent upon strong partnerships. If you’re intrigued by this introduction (and I hope that you are) then I encourage you take the next step and call me to discuss how you might contribute to the School’s growth. Whether through your time, talent or treasure, I know that you will find great reward by contributing to this special place.
Let’s change significantly the outcomes for today’s youth, so that we all may benefit.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
Head of School