Achievement First Amistad High School
Achievement First Amistad High School is a college-preparatory public charter school in New Haven, Connecticut. Achievement First Amistad High provides a life-altering education that prepares students for the opportunities and responsibilities they will face in college and beyond. The school was founded in 2006 based on one innovative premise: close the achievement gap by providing a prep-school-quality education to inner-city students. Achievement First Amistad High combines rigorous courses and high expectations with a host of support services more common at affluent and private high schools, including SAT prep, intensive college counseling, tutoring and explicit character education. Achievement First Amistad High is recognized as a national model of education reform, proving what is truly possible when urban students receive a world-class education.
Achievement First Amistad High has one goal: 100% of students will be accepted into four-year colleges and universities. The school prepares students to meet this goal by providing a challenging course of studies and supporting students in their growth outside the classroom. In the classrooms at Achievement First Amistad High, all students are prepared to take responsibility for their own learning. As students’ progress from grade 9 to 12, instruction shifts from a teacher-directed approach to student-led exchanges of ideas. Outside of class, students grow as athletes, volunteers, leaders and responsible community members through participation in the school’s extracurricular, athletic and arts programs.
Morgan Barth is the principal of AF Amistad High School. Mr. Barth and his family have lived in New Haven, CT for many years and he has had several roles at Achievement First since starting in 2004 as a 5th grade reading teacher at Elm City College Prep Middle. Mr. Barth has had the honor and privilege of working with hundreds of AF families. Most recently Mr. Barth was the Regional Superintendent for a group of AF elementary and middle schools in Connecticut. Before that Mr. Barth worked at the Connecticut State Department of Education where he led the Turnaround Office which supported school improvement around the state. From 2011 – 2013 Mr. Barth was the principal of AF Bridgeport Academy Middle School; in his two years at that school AFBA was among the fastest improving schools in all of Connecticut. From 2008-2011 Mr. Barth served as principal of Elm City College Prep Elementary, in New Haven. During his time at ECCP the school was ranked the # 1 school for African American student achievement in the state of Connecticut. Mr. Barth grew up in New York City and began his teaching career as a Teach for America Corps Member in rural Arkansas / Mississippi Delta. Mr. Barth holds a certificate from the superintendent’s program the UCONN Neag School of Education, a M.Ed. in Education Administration from National Louis University and a B.A. in History from Williams College.
Jennifer Caruso, a 15- year educator, serves as an Academic Dean, Leadership Coach, and manages the Special Services Department in her current role of Dean of Leadership and Special Services. As a founding member of the Achievement First Amistad High School team, Jen has held the following roles; science teacher, Dean of Students, Academic Dean, and Academic Dean of Students. Through these roles Jen’s passions lie with working with families, building relationships with scholars, and coaching teachers. Prior to joining Achievement First, Jen has worked as a high school science teacher in Minnesota, and a middle school science teacher in Washington Heights in New York City. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Union College, a Masters or Arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her 092 Certificate for Admiration and Supervision from the Residency Program for School Leadership. Her time outside of school is spent with her family. She is the mother of three children, Kathryn age 5, Jack, age 3, and Margaret 6 months.
David Constant is the ELA Academic Dean at Achievement First Amistad High School. Before joining AFAHS in 2014 as a 9th-grade composition teacher, he spent 3 years at Litchfield High School in Connecticut, where he taught English 9-12, journalism, and AP English Language and Composition. During the 2013-14 school year, his students celebrated a 100% pass rate on the AP exam. Since arriving at Amistad, David has taught Composition I, worked as a curriculum facilitator and fellow, and also coached the boys and girls high school track team during their inaugural season. David graduated with a B.A. in journalism and English from the University of Connecticut, and he earned his M.A.T. with secondary education certification from Sacred Heart University.
Kimbo Matthews joins Achievement First Amistad High School as Dean of School Culture. He started his career in social work and has worked with urban communities and adolescents for over 15 years with a laser like focus on adolescent counseling, youth mentorship and college counseling. Later Mr. Matthews, joined New Leaders Inc., a national urban school principal training program and spent approximately 10 years supporting the development and training of school principals and the scholars they serve across the United States. As Director of Program Operations with New Leaders, Mr. Matthews led an operations team through the implementation and execution of New Leaders “resident” in training, principal program. Mr. Matthews attended Lincoln University, PA and is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Services.
Esther Massie is the Director of School Operations and joins the Achievement First team from the world of non-profit management. Esther has been managing operations and logistics at the executive level for non-profit organizations for over 15 years. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Wesleyan University and an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Cecil Barnes rejoins the Achievement First Amistad High School Team and Family after a one year hiatus as Dean of School Culture. During his hiatus he severed as a History Teacher and 10th Grade Level Leader at a charter high school in Harlem, New York. Prior to his arrival to Achievement First in 2013, Mr. Barnes taught History in Boston, Massachusetts where he was also a Dean-In-Residence. Prior to his tenure in Boston, Mr. Barnes taught Music in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. Barnes began his career teaching History and Music in his hometown of Los Angeles, California. Mr. Barnes has taught Global History, Band, Choir, AP European History, and AP World History. Mr. Barnes holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University, Los Angeles and a Master of Arts Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Arley Pekrul received her BA in History and Secondary Education from Stonehill College and her MA in Education Interventions from the University of St. Joseph. Arley has been teaching history since 2008 and has been a part of the Achievement First Team and Family since 2012.
Emery Sykes is the Dean of College Services at Achievement First Amistad High School. She has worked at the school since October of the 2007-2008 school year. She began her career at AFAHS as the founding college counselor, a role she enjoyed for six years before her current role. During her time as the Director of College Counseling, Ms. Sykes successfully designed and implemented the school’s college application process and supported four senior classes in securing 100% college acceptance. As the Dean of College Services, Ms. Sykes supports a team of seven professionals who ensure that scholars are appropriately prepared to go TO and THROUGH college. Ms. Sykes earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development from Connecticut College.
Josh Taylor is the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academic Dean at Amistad High School. He joined the AFAHS faculty in 2015. Previously, he taught Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering at Noble Street Charter School – Johnson College Prep (JCP) in Chicago, Illinois. During his tenure at JCP, he was awarded Teacher of the Year, served as a Grade-Level Chair, a Science Department Chair, and an Assistant Dean of Instruction. Josh earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois – Chicago. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
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