A Letter from Our Founder
My wife Sarah and I have two happy and healthy sons – a 3-year old and a 1-year old. Until recently, we resided in Charlestown, a Boston neighborhood we loved – and with many similarities to the East Side of Providence.
Although we felt there was a chance we could navigate the public education system to find a “good enough” pre-kindergarten and kindergarten program for our older son, we knew there would be no enrollment certainty at the schools we preferred. And even what we saw as the preferred public options seemed outdated to us; the learning experiences wouldn’t offer the more personal, enriching, and challenging experience we desired for our sons.
At the same time, Sarah and I generally shied away from looking at the private school arena, having both been the product of public schools ourselves. We also knew there was no chance we’d be able to afford elite private school tuition of $30,000 or more.
We felt stuck. And we made the hard decision to move out of the city. We were privileged to have the means to do so.
But I haven’t been able to shake this from my mind: there needs to be a better solution to the “stuck-ness” over schooling options for their children that we know many young families in neighborhoods like the East Side feel very acutely.
So, I’ve decided to try to do something about it.
In fall 2018, I, along with Founding Teacher Cristina Smith, will open The Croft School. We are developing a small, innovative new school that will have the superb academics and the close-knit community of the very best private schools, but without the (admittedly) beautiful buildings and campuses so as to keep the price more accessible to families like mine. We’re incorporating some unique features into our model that we believe will make families and students come to treasure The Croft School quite deeply.
I’ve started six schools in my lifetime, all with the mission of helping low-income kids become first in their families to succeed in college. With the launch of The Croft School, I am addressing a new challenge. I’m hopeful that with the help of other families we might create a school that is wonderful in every way.
Founder, The Croft School
Founder – Scott Given
The Founder of The Croft School is Scott Given. Scott has worked as an award-winning educator for more than fifteen years: as a teacher, Principal, and nonprofit founder and leader. Most recently, Scott founded and led a nonprofit education organization that opened six highly-acclaimed schools, serving more than 3,000 students, throughout Massachusetts. The nonprofit was named the National Education Reform Organization of the year in 2012.
Before founding UP, Scott was the Principal of a charter public middle school in Boston. During the final year of Scott’s tenure at the school, its students were the top-achieving math and reading students among any public middle school in Massachusetts, at the time an unprecedented accomplishment for any urban public school in Massachusetts history.
Scott started his education career as a high school history teacher and athletics coordinator. Before working in education, Scott served as a management consultant. Scott is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School. He completed the prestigious Broad Academy Fellowship in 2015-2016.
Scott resides with his wife Sarah, two sons (Parker and Teddy), and their golden-doodle Henry.
A Letter from Cristina Smith, Founding Teacher at The Croft School
My interest in education began in my own learning experiences. I attended Paideia School, in Atlanta, Georgia, from Kindergarten until I graduated as a high school senior. At Paideia, I learned that learning is fun, it opens opportunities, and it should be shared.
With that understanding, I began my undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where I majored in environmental anthropology. Eager to share my love of learning, I tutored elementary students from East Palo Alto and also volunteered in a first grade classroom. I enjoyed working with students, and I seemed to have a natural affinity for it. This lead me to take education coursework and learn more about the history, politics, and theory of education as well as childhood development.
With a clear understanding of the importance and role of education within society, I decided to dive into the field with hands-on experience. I assisted two fourth grade teachers at an exceptional school called Philips Brooks, and then I returned to Stanford for my Master’s in Education.
With my return to Stanford, I student taught in 5th, 3rd, and 1st grade classrooms. I studied education theory and practiced it with my students. I also learned the research behind and the implementation of bilingual education.
With my credential in hand, I taught a Spanish-English bilingual class at Thomas Edison Charter Academy in San Francisco for three years. Later, I moved to Palo Alto and taught second grade at East Palo Alto Charter School.
I moved to New England in July 2017, and I met Scott. He wanted the same educational experiences for children as I envisioned in an ideal school. So, we are designing a place where children will find that learning is fun, it opens opportunities, and should be shared.
Founding Teacher, The Croft School
Our Location and Facility
We forego the fancy buildings and grounds of some private schools to deliver an outstanding experience to students and families at lower tuition. Still, we care a lot about creating warm and dynamic classrooms that are highly conducive to elementary school learning.
Our intention, over time, is for The Croft School to be made up of three distinct facilities all within the same 1-mile radius within the East Side. Each space will be designed and decorated in accordance with the grade levels it will accommodate. We will have a pre-kindergarten through 1st grade facility, a 2nd and 3rd grade facility, and a 4th and 5th grade facility.
We are in the process of selecting the best possible East Side site for our early elementary learning space and intend to have more certainty by later in 2017. We intend for the learning space to be approximately 2,000 square feet – fully renovated, bright, and with access to attached or nearby outdoor space. We will provide regular updates to our community of interested families.
Growing the School
In the 2018-19 school year, The Croft School will open to 16 students in pre-kindergarten and 16 students in kindergarten. Each year, thereafter, we will add one additional grade level until we have a full pre-Kindergarten through grade 5 elementary school in the 2023-24 school year. At capacity, the school will serve 112 students.
The Story Behind Our Name: Mr. Harold (Hal) Croft
Harold (“Hal”) Croft had an outsized influence on Founder Scott Given’s life as his Reading (MA) Memorial High School English teacher (a class called “Idea of Man”) and track coach.
Scott recalls, “More than anything else, Mr. Croft taught my classmates, teammates, and me that you could achieve far more than you ever think possible with hard work, determination, and collaboration with a team. He took an average athlete like myself and, by convincing me I could be great, he turned me into an all-star runner who could break 4:30 in the mile.”
Croft’s record as the Reading High Boys’ Track and Field Coach provides evidence that he had this type of effect on many of his students and athletes.
When Croft took over the boys’ spring track team in 1971, he inherited a team that finished 0-9 in 1970. After a 3-6 first season, Croft’s Rockets didn’t lose another dual meet until the early 2000s. “The Streak” is a nationally-recognized record of 28 straight league titles and 252 consecutive dual meet victories.
Scott adds: “I am proud to be able to name this school after an individual who has been so impactful in my own life. If we can have half the impact on our students that Mr. Croft had on me, our school will be a tremendous success.”