Welcome to Amistad Academy

Amistad Academy is a rigorous, college-preparatory public charter school serving middle school students from throughout the city of New Haven, CT. Recognized by the Connecticut Board of Education and local, regional and national media for closing the achievement gap, Amistad Academy helps its urban students achieve dramatic breakthroughs in academic achievement and personal conduct, putting them firmly on the college bound path.

Amistad Academy Overview

Amistad Academy invites you to learn more about its outstanding program.

Key Attributes and Accomplishments

Key Attributes and Accomplishments of Amistad
Amistad Academy is a public charter school serving 250 students in grades 5-8 from the city of New Haven, CT. Amistad’s dramatic, measurable results – proving that urban kids can achieve at a high level despite their disadvantaged backgrounds – have attracted a lot of attention. This year, Amistad Academy was chosen to be the sole subject of a national PBS documentary, airing in the fall of 2024, by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page. By leveraging the resulting exposure into increased participation in the national dialogue on education, even a single school in New Haven can have a substantial ripple effect on public school reform.
Amistad does not “cherry-pick” its students; admission is through a blind lottery administered by the city of New Haven. Amistad students come from underprivileged urban backgrounds - 98% are Black and Latino and 84% qualify for the federal free lunch program. They represent a population that is traditionally underserved by the public school system; they enter Amistad in the fifth grade, on average, more than two years below grade level.

Amistad provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum that helps its students achieve major breakthroughs in the skills necessary for success in high school, college, and life. Approximately one-third of this year’s graduating 8th graders were accepted into top private high schools across the country, with most of the remainder admitted to the honors track at area public high schools. Five Amistad graduates have received four-year, full-ride, merit-based scholarships (valued at $41,000 per year) to Choate-Rosemary Hall.

The Amistad model pays real dividends in improved student performance. Amistad students significantly outperform New Haven Public School students in every subject (Reading, Writing, and Math) on the statewide Connecticut Mastery Tests administered every fall to grades 6 and 8. In fact, Amistad tripled the NHPS scores in math and reading, despite serving the identical student population and spending less per pupil!

Bucking the well-publicized national trend, Amistad’s students, who come from some of New Haven’s worst neighborhoods, achieve at the same high level as their suburban counterparts. On the Connecticut Mastery Test, widely considered to be among the country’s most challenging batteries of tests, Amistad students surpassed the statewide average in all mastery test subjects, and Amistad’s 8th graders outperformed affluent districts such as Madison, Greenwich, and Westport on the writing portion of the CMT.

Amistad was founded in 1999 by a group of Yale Law School students with the collaboration of New Haven business and community leaders. As a charter school, Amistad has complete control over its budget and the hiring and firing of its teachers. The curriculum is standards-based and data-based; teachers make use of regular student performance data to effectively target instruction. Consistent, high-quality instruction across all classrooms is achieved through ongoing observation and training of all teachers.

Amistad Academy is able to achieve dramatic improvements in student performance despite being significantly underfunded by the state. Connecticut provides $7,250 per pupil to charter schools, more than $4,000 less than what the New Haven Public School System spends per pupil, and to date Amistad has received no capital funding. This year, we must raise $1.3 million through donations from private foundations and individuals to compensate for the funding shortfall.

Facts and Figures

Student Demographics


How selected - Students are selected by a blind lottery run by the New Haven Public Schools magnet office. In the 2023 lottery, over 500 parents listed Amistad Academy as their top choice. Less than 80 slots open up each year, the majority of which are for the 5th grade. There are no admissions criteria other than living in New Haven.

Per Pupil Expenditures


Opened: July 1999; the 2023-2024 school year is our fifth year in operation

Grades served: 5th to 8th

Number of students in 2023-2024: 240

Number of students at capacity: 265; expected in Fall 2024

Number of teachers/staff: 33 full-time employees (26 are full-time teachers)

Type of School: State of Connecticut Charter School. Amistad is a public school that operates as a one-school school district. As a charter school, Amistad Academy has control over its budget and the hiring of its staff.

Non-profit status: Amistad Academy is a 501©(3) non-profit

Governance: Amistad is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors holds the charter for our school.

Management/Administration: Amistad Academy is run by a three-person administrative team (Director, Associate Director, and Dean of Students).

Frequently Asked Questions


Founded in 1999 by a group of Yale Law School students with the collaboration of local business and community leaders and New Haven parents, Amistad Academy is a public charter school offering a rigorous college preparatory curriculum to New Haven middle school students in grades 5-8. Amistad’s founders were driven by the desire to prove that urban students can perform at the same high levels of their suburban peers if given the proper instruction and support. We are well on our way to fulfilling the three overarching goals of our mission:

  1. Academic Excellence: To accelerate the learning of our students so that they achieve academic breakthroughs in the skills that are necessary for success in high school, college and life - especially reading, writing, math, and public speaking.
  2. Public Citizenship: To develop students who take responsibility for themselves, their school, and their community by living up to the school’s REACH values (Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship, and Hard Work).
  3. Public School Reform: To develop and share an instructional model that consistently produces dramatic growth in student achievement and to work with others to further excellence in public education.

Amistad Academy received its original charter from the Connecticut Department of Education in 1999. The school is run by a three-person administrative team (Director, Associate Director, and Dean of Students) which reports to the Board of Directors. (Click here for a list of board members and their affiliations).

As a public charter school, Amistad Academy has control over its budget and the hiring and firing of its teachers. Connecticut provides operating funds for its charter schools at the rate of $7,250 per pupil, more than $4,000 LESS than what the New Haven Public School system spends per pupil. Amistad Academy is able to provide a top-notch education for its students thanks to our individual and foundation donors, who make up the difference between the funding provided by the state and the amount required to serve our New Haven students. (Click here for more information about Amistad Academy’s fundraising efforts).

Program Description

Program Description
Amistad Academy currently serves 240 students in grades 5-8, and we will grow by another 25 students for the 2024-2025 school year. Eighty-four percent of our students body qualifies for the federal free lunch program, and 98 percent are African-American or Latino. On average, our incoming students begin fifth grade more than two years below grade level, according to baseline achievement tests. By the end of the year, they have not only reached grade level, but in many cases have exceeded it. During their second year with us, they hold onto these gains and advance still further!
Amistad Academy offers an outstanding education designed to promote high levels of academic achievement and positive student leadership. The school day runs from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., providing more than three additional hours of instruction each day than the New Haven Public School (NHPS) system. The curriculum is standards-based and data-based; teachers make use of regular student performance data to effectively target instruction. Consistent, high-quality instruction across all classrooms is achieved through ongoing observation and training of all teachers.

Typical Student Schedule

7:15-7:30 - Students arrive and turn in homework folder
7:30 - 7:45 - Breakfast
7:45 - 8:00 - Students practice math facts, math terms, and SSAT vocabulary
8:00 - 8:10 - Morning Circle
8:15 - 8:35 - Advisory Time / REACH Class
8:40 - 9:45 - Reading Class
9:50 - 10:55 - Math Class
10:55 - 11:05 - Snack
11:10 - 12:15 - Writing Class
12:20 - 12:40 - Lunch
12:45 - 1:25 - Music/P.E./Technology Class
1:30 - 2:35 - Decoding/Reading Enrichment Class
2:40 - 3:40 - History or Science Class
3:40 - 3:45 - Check Out
3:50 - 5:00 - Encore! enrichment classes (some offerings include orchestra, intramurals, karate,dance, art, drama, interscholastic sports)

Attending Amistad

During the 2023-2024 school year, Amistad Academy serves 240 fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from the city of New Haven. Eighty-four percent of our student body qualifies for the federal free lunch program, and 98% are Black or Latino. According to baseline achievement tests, our incoming students, on average, begin fifth grade more than two years below grade level. By the end of the year, many have reached or exceeded grade level standards.
Amistad Academy participates in the blind lottery administered by New Haven Public Schools which determines admission into all of New Haven’s “Schools of Choice.” Last year, Amistad was again the #1 choice for middle school students in New Haven; we had seven times more applicants than we could accept. Last spring, we made available 65 new student spots for this fall, and, through the lottery, received 455 applications for admission. The deadline for application is generally in late February, with the lottery occurring in early March. Contact New Haven Public Schools’ Magnet School Program Office (203-946-7415) for more information or to obtain an application

In the News

Last year, Amistad Academy was chosen to be the sole subject of a national PBS documentary, airing in the fall of 2024, by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page. The focus of the documentary, tentatively titled “A Year in the Life of a School”, is profiling a school that works. The film crew chronicled daily life at Amistad throughout an entire school year, from the first day of classes through the graduation of our first class of eighth graders.
Amistad Academy has been featured in The New York Times, The Hartford Courant, The New Haven Register, The Connecticut Post, The Connecticut Law Tribune, Bar Leader, Yale Law Report and The Yale Daily News. Selected articles are listed below.

Closing the Achievement Gap
Woman’s Day magazine, September 1, 2023

Rowland: Amistad is Unbelievable
New Haven Register, June 11, 2023

Hard Days Work Wonders
Hartford Courant, June 8, 2023

Charter School Turns Heads with Test Scores
New Haven Register, February 16, 2023

What They Do for an Encore!
New Haven Register, November 18, 2022

Amistad Academy a Shining Example
New Haven Register, October 10, 2022

Board Hears of Inner-city School Success
Connecticut Post, October 10, 2022

First Graduation at City’s Amistad Academy Sends 32 on Way
New Haven Register, June 22, 2022

Students Thriving at Amistad
New Haven Register front page, April 7, 2022

In a Society of Their Own, Children are Learning
The New York Times, February 7, 2021

Board of Directors

Academic Program

The Amistad model pays real dividends in improved student performance. Clear, measurable outcomes are the shining star on which all our curricular efforts are focussed. Click on the options below to learn more about our program and the exciting achievements of our students.

Test Results

On the latest Connecticut Mastery Test, Amistad’s 8th grade students (class of 2023) again significantly outperformed New Haven Public School students in every subject (Reading, Writing, and Math). In fact, Amistad tripled the New Haven scores in math and reading, despite serving the identical student population!
Bucking the well-publicized national trend, Amistad’s students, who come from some of New Haven’s toughest neighborhoods, achieve at the same high level of their suburban counterparts. On the Connecticut Mastery Test, widely considered to be among the country’s most challenging batteries of tests, Amistad students surpassed the statewide average in reading, writing, and math. Amistad’s writing scores topped those of Greenwich, Madison, Westport, and other affluent areas.

The graphs on the next few pages show the performa

High School Placement

Amistad Academy had 32 graduates in first graduating class 2022, and it had 36 graduates in 2023. The future that awaits them looks very different from the one they might have expected when they entered Amistad. Approximately one-third of both classes was accepted into rigorous private high schools across the country on full-ride, merit-based scholarships, and most of the remainder were admitted to the honors, college-preparatory track at area public high schools.
Amistad’s Classes of 2022 and 2023 have received scholarships that are valued at over $2,040,000. Over the past three years, five students from Amistad have received the Icahn Scholarship to Choate Rosemary Hall. The Icahn Scholarship is the most prestigious high school scholarship in the country, valued at $40,000/year. Amistad is the only school in the history of the program to have three Icahn Scholars in one year.

Private High School Acceptances: Classes of 2022 and 2023

Public High School Acceptances: Classes of 2022 and 2023

Key Strategies

Strategies for Success > What is Taught

  1. Clear, standards-based curriculum: For the core academic subjects (reading, writing, grammar, and math), we have developed scope and sequences that clearly outline which standards are to be taught when. Standards are grouped in 6-week cycles so teachers know what students are to have mastered by the end of each 6 weeks. In creating these scope and sequences, we did not have internal, school-level debates about what is taught; we held firmly to the state standards, which we believe, though not perfect, are excellent indicators of what students should know. We let the standards guide excellent, engaging instruction.
  1. Periodic, internal assessments that measure standards: In order to focus instruction clearly on standards and give teachers the information they need to maximize instructional time, we have developed our own internal assessments that mirror the content and feel of the Connecticut Mastery Test for reading, writing, grammar, and math. These internal assessments measure whether students have mastered the material covered in that 6-week period, and since they are cumulative in nature, they also measure whether students have retained mastery of standards covered earlier in the year. In structured reflection sessions with administrators, teachers then use these assessments to determine what is taught in whole group, small group, and one-on-one lessons.
  1. Standards-based materials: In mathematics especially, we have created our own practice materials for each standard, a problem-of-the-day progression to help students master problem solving, and cumulative review homework. Providing teachers with excellent standards-based materials is a great way to make sure the standards are being taught. We are working to develop similar materials for grammar standards and novel units with standards-based questions and graphic organizers.
  2. Teacher supervision and evaluation: Administrators consistently monitor what is taught in classrooms to make sure that each class has a clear standards-based aim. Moreover, systematically and strategically following the scope and sequences in order to master clear standards is an integral part of teacher evaluation.

Quand sont les vacances scolaires ?

Les dates des vacances scolaires sont déterminées par le ministère de l'éducation nationale et publiées au journal officiel de la république française.

School Culture & Discipline

As an explicit part of our mission, Amistad Academy holds our students to standards of behavior that are just as demanding as our academic standards. We have very high expectations for responsible, respectful behavior and a strong work ethic; we instruct our students in desirable behaviors both big (how to treat others, how to manage time) and small (looking people in the eye, speaking clearly, a firm handshake, etc). Amistad students work every day to live up to the school REACH values (Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship, and Hard Work). Every month, students use a REACH rubric outlining specific behaviors to evaluate their own behavior against school-wide standards. Last year, the number of students winning REACH awards by always or almost always demonstrating each of the REACH values doubled over the course of the school year.
In addition to their work inside the Amistad community, Amistad students have been practicing their advocacy and public speaking skills in more public forums. Amistad students have been welcomed in the front row of the Mayor’s State of the City and the governor’s State of the State addresses, and they testified in front of the General Assembly, New Haven’s Zoning Board, and the New Haven Board of Aldermen.

REACH Rubric

A Reach Rubric: Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship, and Hard Work are great concepts, but we have found that we must define what they look like to have real meaning for students. The criteria on which students judge themselves – and they are judged by their teachers – can be found below. Teachers rank students on a scale of 1-5 for each of the subtopics below. To win the respect award, for example, a student would have to receive scores of all 4s (very good) and 5s (perfect) for each subtopic under respect. To win the overall REACH award (our Nobel Prize, Heismann Trophy, Pulitzer Prize), students must have 4s or 5s in every category. Students take REACH rubrics home for parent signatures monthly.





Hard Work

Public Citizenship: Strategies for Success

School Culture is the sum total of a lot of little things. It has to be created intentionally and relentlessly through clear expectations, constant reinforcement, and pervasive school spirit.
R.E.A.C.H. (Respect, Enthusiasm, Achievement, Citizenship, and Hard Work): School values are clearly defined and clearly communicated to parents and students. REACH is posted throughout the school and is emphasized throughout the school day. Expectations for students (the observable behaviors of REACH) are consistently explained, modeled and reinforced by all staff members. Positive behavior is thought of the same way as academics - it is taught.

Consistent - every class, all day - classroom expectations: Every classroom has the same set of specific, observable classroom expectations that are frequently recited at the beginning of class. Classrooms are orderly and are run with a sense of academic rigor and purpose. Students must sit up with both legs underneath their desk, raise their hands to speak, and focus on the work at hand. While teacher styles are different, teachers all share the same high expectations for student behavior. The “little things” (rolled eyes, talking under breath, minor refusals) are addressed by all teachers.

Routines are rehearsed: Our teachers spend a considerable amount of time --especially at the beginning of the year – practicing classroom routines (what we call “behavior rehearsals”) so that the focus can be on academics. Teachers establish and practice clear routines for passing in papers, returning from the bathroom, raising your hands, transitioning to partner or small group work, lining up at the end of class, putting the header on the top of work, and being prepared for the start of class.

School-wide recognition systems: There are multiple ways in which students are recognized for doing well and in which the school culture is defined positively. Achievement of high standards and improvement are celebrated with students and parents. Students are recognized publicly in Morning Circle by teachers and students and students receive regular “posi-notes.” Students may also earn Academy Awards (REACH, 100% Homework, 100% Attendance), given out monthly during Morning Circle and posted for the month in the front hall. Classes receive a “rating” for every class (1-5), and they pursue weekly and monthly class goals. Our ScholarDollar system gives students weekly paychecks – de facto weekly progress reports - that parents must sign. Students must have ScholarDollars to earn special trips and privileges.

Clear consequences: School rules are clear and are consistently enforced. Consequences are respectful, reasonable, and logical (related to the poor behavior). Poor behavior is not tolerated. For example, if homework is not completed, parents are called that morning and students are kept in a supervised detention where homework is completed. Students who push or fight with another student are suspended, and they must apologize in front of the whole school before being allowed to return to classes. Disrespect to teachers is unacceptable behavior, and students will face consequences for it.

Safe, Structured, and Predictable Environment: Students are walked from class to class in quiet lines, and students shake hands with their teachers before starting the day. Students are supervised at all times and they are expected to talk in quiet voices at breakfast and lunch. The rules apply at all times – and students are expected to be learning at all times.

Achievement Culture: Academic success is “cool” at Amistad Academy. We take several steps to promote greater student “buy in” to a culture of achievement. We want students to believe - and be able to clearly explain - that they have to do well at Amistad in order to be prepared for success at top, selective high schools or in top tracks at New Haven’s comprehensive high schools. We want students to believe - and be able to clearly explain - that they have to be superstars in high school in order to be admitted to top colleges. We want students to believe - and be able to clearly explain - that success in college will give them options in life. Our teachers consistently use inspirational messages - “Teachers are platinum!” … “Climb the mountain to college” … “No excuses” - to reinforce this achievement culture.

Advisors: Each student has the support of two teachers who serve as Advisors. Advisors are responsible for monitoring and supporting each student’s academic success and overall REACH behavior. The Advisor-student relationship is at the center of the Amistad approach to discipline. The Advisor is the primary point of contact for teachers and parents seeking or relaying information about the child. In addition, there is a formal “Advisory” class two times a week. In addition to an ongoing discussion of REACH and school goals, Advisors use the Second Step Violence Prevention Program to teach critical social skills.

Parent Involvement: Our Director of Parent Outreach plans structured parent activities, supports the Parent Leadership Council, strictly monitors and problem-solves around attendance and homework issues, and otherwise promotes positive parent engagement in their child’s education and in the life of the school as a whole.

Clinical Support Services: Amistad Academy employs a full-time Social Worker to provide necessary services to especially challenging students (e.g. follow through when students return from suspension, anger management counseling, parent support groups).

Problem-solving TEAM: In weekly grade-level team meetings, teachers have the opportunity to tap the experience and insight of their colleagues in discussing the antecedents of poor behavior and brainstorming interventions.

Morning Circle: Each school day begins with a positive, community pep rally to jumpstart the day. School values are affirmed in opening and closing chants; students are recognized by teachers and students for living up to REACH; students apologize for lateness or poor behavior; and community news is shared.

Uniforms: Every student every day wears the uniform. Staff insists that students wear the uniform properly (no shirt tails out, no jackets/sweaters, no chains over the Amistad uniform). Our students look sharp!

Public School Reform Efforts

Amistad Academy aspires to be more than a single, successful school. The third part of our mission - from day one - has been public school reform (“to develop and share an instructional model that consistently produces dramatic growth in student achievement and to work with others to further excellence in public education”). In the summer of 2023, Amistad help to start Achievement First, a separate non-profit that aims to take Amistad’s successes to scale.
Amistad Academy and Achievement First believe that the most compelling and urgent challenge facing public education today is how to take successful practices to scale and to produce significant, district-wide improvements in student performance for ALL students. Achievement First believes that the following are the key drivers for district-wide reform:

  1. Unwavering focus on student achievement: a) measurable student academic achievement must be the shining star that drives all decisions; b) a relentless focus on achieving dramatic, measurable student performance results and on all students mastering clear standards must drive all district/school decision-making; c) district- and school-level leaders must align resources – and find cost savings within the district – in order to fund actions that directly improve student performance.
  2. Quality of school leadership: a) the recruitment of extremely talented and dedicated school leaders; b) the replacement of ineffective leaders; c) rigorous training around achievement-focused, standards-based reform for all school leaders that fosters a deep, unyielding belief in measurable outcomes; d) training around the skills needed to develop/coach teachers to lead curriculum implementation
  3. Quality of teachers: a) aggressive teacher recruitment tapping multiple traditional and non-traditional sources; a rigorous application process, including written responses to questions, a sample lesson, intensive interviews, and background/reference checks; b) initial training around research-based, proven instructional strategies; classroom management; school discipline, standards-based, data-based instruction and c) ongoing training and coaching
  4. Curriculum and assessments (and strategic use of data): a) standards-based scope and sequences, assessments, units, and practice materials for each subject; b) periodic use of standards-based assessments to inform instruction and structured teacher reflection around student mastery of clear standards; c) use of a technology platform tool to help teachers and leaders analyze student performance data and access appropriate standards-based materials.
  5. School culture: A strong achievement-oriented, no excuses culture built around clear expectations, teacher consistency, and “climbing the mountain” focus
  6. More time on task: a) at least 240 minutes of reading, writing, and math daily; b) longer school days, with after school, Saturday, and summer programs necessary for struggling students; c) instructional time is sacrosanct (assemblies or other events that interrupt core instructional time should be almost zero)

Please see www.achievementfirst.org for more information about Achievement First’s efforts to drive dramatic student achievement at scale.


It’s all in the teaching.
Amistad Academy’s teaching is the secret to its success in helping underprivileged students achieve dramatic academic breakthroughs. For Amistad’s faculty, teaching is equal parts mission and profession. Click on the options below to learn more about Amistad Academy’s amazing teachers.

Why Teach at Amistad Academy?

You will change lives. Our students, on average, enter the fifth grade more than two years behind in the core academic areas. Academic failure is often combined with poor social skills, low self-esteem, and an amazing number of destructive habits. Amistad Academy teachers work tirelessly to help our students meet the higher standard- in terms of academic success and positive behavior - in order to fundamentally change the life opportunities our students will have. The work is hard, but the rewards are incredible.
You will be treated like a professional and paid a competitive salary. All Amistad Academy teachers have their own personal computer, telephone with private voice mail, business cards, and unlimited use of school copiers. Amistad teacher salaries are competitive with Connecticut public school salaries, which are among the highest in the country. All teachers receive a generous package of medical, dental, and life insurance benefits. All teachers are also offered membership at the newly renovated Yale Gym.

You will receive top-notch training to improve your teaching. At Amistad Academy, we work harder and smarter to serve our students. You will learn how to maximize positive impact on your students. All new teachers receive more than three weeks of training in our summer program. During the school year, there are 8 full professional development days and 10 half-days, and every Friday students are dismissed at 1:00 so that teachers have time for valuable training and meetings.

You will be part of a passionate and talented teaching corps. Faculty members have moved from across the country to be a part of this high-energy, high-impact project. A passionate and extremely talented group from top universities, teachers frequently invite each other to socialize outside of work. Come and work in a professional community in which every teacher shares your high expectations and actively works to support one another. Amistad is the type of school that attracts and rewards people who demand clear achievement results for urban students.

You will be a part of building a model public school. Amistad Academy is an outstanding charter school that, in its fourth year, is already receiving local, state, and national acclaim as a model for urban middle school education. Amistad is the subject of a year-long PBS documentary, and we are part of the nationwide KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Network. Through Achievement First, Amistad Academy’s dissemination and replication organization, Amistad teachers will help to train and coach other teache

Professional Values

A high-performing team requires strong guiding principles, based on clear professional values. As professionals and role models, we strive to practice these REACH values every day. We use these values to inspire our words and actions.
Amistad staff members demonstrate respect toward one another as fellow professionals, team members, and allies. We recognize and appreciate that we bring to the team our different strengths, needs, cultures, and communication styles. We value positive, respectful, and productive communication; there are no raised voices or negative energy. We approach differences and problems directly and privately. Issues are addressed with truthfulness and gentleness. If someone has a problem, he or she goes directly to the person involved and begins the conversation with questions, not answers. We “agree to disagree” in a professional manner and know that while opinions may differ, we trust each other and attribute good motives.

All staff are treated professionally and given the information, tools, and time they need to be successful. We recognize, respect, and encourage personal commitments outside of work.

We model respect to students at all times by the way we interact with them as well as with each other. Our tone of voice conveys calmness, understanding, respect, and love. We practice a problem-solving approach to improving student behavior by addressing problems in private and using proactive strategies. We do not react; we respond. Students are never compared at the expense of others.


We are dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of our students and in the future of public education. We strive to remain positive, productive, friendly, and pleasant, even during difficult times. We support each other. We celebrate and recognize successes in order to raise our spirits and maintain perspective in the midst of challenging work. We appreciate a good sense of humor. While there is always room for specific, professional criticism, we are careful to guard against negativity. Persistent griping can be like drips of water that slowly crack our foundation. Rather, we address problems constructively and reach out to each other when in need. We smile and laugh with our students and look for opportunities to recognize student success or improvement.


We have incredibly high standards for our students and ourselves. Amistad staff work harder and smarter. We are strategic, deliberate, and purposeful in our instruction. We have school-wide systems, strategies, and tools that are based on research and proven results. School-wide consistency, the use of ongoing assessments, and differentiated instruction amplify our impact on student learning. We know that we are creating and perfecting an instructional model, not a set of isolated, idiosyncratic classrooms. We allocate our precious resources, especially teachers and volunteers, to effect maximum learning.

We are humble. As individuals and as and organization, we recognize our need to continuously improve through reflection, dialogue, observation, and professional development. We regularly meet to discuss curricula, objectives, and outcomes and to share successful strategies. We observe each other’s teaching and learn from our observations, remembering always what it is like to be in another’s shoes. We have the ongoing observation, coaching, and training that we need to develop as individual teachers and as a teaching team. We actively study and learn from other teachers and schools, especially those with proven positive results.


Amistad staff work together as a team. We communicate. We are accessible to each other. We plan together. We support each other and share successes, materials, information, ideas, and talents. We look for ways to help each other out, especially in areas where we are strong. We collaborate professionally, observe each other at work, and are quick to offer positive feedback. Our classroom doors are open. We all feel a sense of trusteeship for the school, accepting responsibility for fixing problems. We turn our insights into action. We help each other out and bring each other in; there are no camps or cliques, and no one stands alone.

We support each other through kindness, empathy, and patience. We are honest - with each other and with ourselves. Staff members care for each other and back each other up. We are courteous, always greeting each other and quickly thanking each other for lending a hand. We are loyal to each other, never criticizing or complaining about a colleague in front of parents or students. We give each other the benefit of the doubt. We do not try to catch each other making mistakes, rather we look for ways to help each other out. We recognize that our success as individual teachers depends on the success of the team, and vice versa.

We create meaningful relationships with students and families as well as with each other. We seek out opportunities for teachers and students to connect with and give back to our community and city.

Hard Work

We have a sense of urgency about the education and well-being of our students, and we work to accelerate their learning. We are all accountable for doing our jobs well and for constant improvement. We complete all our tasks on time and to the best of our ability. The long day, long year, and ambitious goals of the school require energy, stamina, teamwork, and personal well-being. We have to take care of ourselves and each other. As individuals and as an institution, we go the extra mile.

Faculty Biographies

Dacia Toll is the Director and one of the founders of Amistad Academy. Dacia has served as director since the school’s founding in 1999. Prior to Amistad, Ms. Toll worked as a teacher, lawyer, and management consultant, providing support for community organizations on issues of strategic management and program design. Ms. Toll also worked on school reform at the U.S. Department of Education and in Community School District 19 in New York City. Ms. Toll is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Oxford University, and Yale Law School.
Kelly Clement teaches eighth grade reading and writing at Amistad Academy. She holds a BA in English from Rollins College. She has taught eighth through tenth grade English at a boarding school in Florida. Following her boarding school experience, she spent a year in the Caribbean, working for Readak, where she taught reading and study skills to students in grades four through twelve. In addition to her classroom teaching, she has tutored students at both Huntington and Sylvan learning centers.

De-Lea Deane is the Director of High School Placement and Alumni Programs at Amistad Academy in addition to teaching 5th Grade Math and History. Ms. Deane is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City where she earned a B.A. in Political Science. While a student at Columbia, she was very involved with the Harlem community. As Co-Coordinator of the High School Mentor Extension Program, she organized academic and social activities for local high school students and their college mentors. She also structured a program to guide a group of the high school seniors through the college selection process. Ms. Deane spent her last undergraduate summer as a Teaching Assistant through the Double Discovery Summer Program at Columbia University. Upon graduation, De-Lea Deane joined the Amistad Academy staff as a Math and History teacher in Fall of 2021.

Linda Fitzgerald teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Math at Amistad Academy and serves as 8th grade Co-Advisor. Ms. Fitzgerald also serves as the school’s math facilitator. In this role, she supports math teachers in planning and implementing the math curriculum. Ms. Fitzgerald received her B.A. from Sacred Heart University and taught in Waterbury, Connecticut before coming to Amistad.

Kathleen Kalt teaches sixth grade Reading, Writing and Science at Amistad Academy. Previously, she taught at Joseph Melillo Middle School in East Haven. While there, she established the curriculum for Social Studies. Ms. Kalt received her B.A. degree from Albertus Magnus College and her M.A.T. from Quinnipiac University. She is active in The American Cancer Society and The Hole in the Wall Gang Fund.

Roxanna Lopez is a fifth grade reading and writing teacher at Amistad Academy. She also serves as one of the Language Arts Facilitators at Amistad. In this role, she supports reading teachers in planning and implementing reading curriculum. She holds a B.A from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and a Masters degree in Reading from Teachers College at Columbia University. Ms. Lopez grew up in Los Angeles, where she attended public schools. She moved to New York City upon graduation from Haverford College and taught in East Harlem and the Bronx for six years, prior to relocating to New Haven.

Marc Michaelson is a seventh grade Reading teacher and Director of the Encore! Program. Mr. Michaelson holds an M.A. in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University. Prior to joining the Amistad staff, Mr. Michaelson worked as a writer and photographer in the Horn of Africa as a Fellow of the Institute for Current World Affairs. Mr. Michaelson has also served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in The Gambia and as a Program Manager for Save the Children.

Shanta Morrison is a sixth grade math, writing, and decoding teacher at Amistad Academy. She also serves as a co-advisor for the Imani (6th grade) classroom. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Science degree in Education from the University of New Haven. Ms. Morrison previously taught at West Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Kimberly Mowery is a science and math teacher at Amistad Academy. She currently teaches 5th and 6th graders. Before coming to Amistad, Ms. Mowery worked with students in grades 7 through 12 at the Field School in Washington, DC, where she taught middle school science and high school environmental science. She also created and taught a senior science elective. In DC, Ms. Mowery also coached soccer and co-directed the school’s jazz ensemble. She has brought her science knowledge to the Sierra Club, serving on the organization’s national Board for the past three years. Ms. Mowery has a BA from Brown University and graduated from Deerfield Academy in MA, after attending public school in suburban Chicago. She is also a graduate of Connecticut’s ARC program for teacher certification.

Tamara Orput is in her third year at Amistad as a teacher and fifth grade advisor. She teaches math, reading, writing, and history. She holds a Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Hartford. Before becoming a teacher Ms. Orput spent three years working as a social worker for the YWCA of New Britain, Connecticut. She has a BA from the University of Connecticut.

Carmel M. Paleski teaches 5-8 Math, 7-8 Writing, and Decoding at Amistad Academy and serves as an Imani (6th grade) co-advisor. This is her second year with Amistad Academy. She has also taught at Mercedes High School in Mercedes, Texas. While in Texas she worked on the School and District Site Based Decision Making Team and two student groups; T.E.A.C.H. and P.A.L.S.

Vivien I. Perez, LCSW joined the staff at Amistad Academy in the Fall of 2022 in the role of School Counselor. Ms. Perez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Ms. Perez received a B.S. in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to Amistad Ms. Perez was employed as a clinician by the State of Connecticut in several agencies including: Juvenile Probation; The Department of Corrections; The Department of Children & Families; and The Connecticut Mental Health Center’s Hispanic Clinic.

LaShell Rountree is the Office Manager at Amistad Academy. She is a New Haven native, a mother of two wonderful boys and the wife of a New Haven Firefighter (Terrence). LaShell is an avid supporter of New Haven living, owning both residential and rental property in the city. “I believe in the culture and have enjoyed the growth of our wonderful city.” LaShell received her Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management at Albertus Magnus College. LaShell’s hobbies are weight training and being a mom.

Joshua Sloat is a fifth grade Reading and Writing teacher at Amistad Academy. He holds a Master’s in Elementary Education with certification in Special Education. Previous to Amistad, he taught at a charter school in Massachusetts as a Special Education Inclusion Teacher. In his seemingly little spare time, Mr. Sloat enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and likes to read, baby, read.

Employment Information

Employment Information > Current Openings
Amistad Academy is fully staffed for the 2023-2024 school year. Because we know how important a talented, committed teaching staff is to our school’s success, we view teacher recruiting as a year-round effort, and Amistad Academy administrators spend a great deal of time and effort to find the best candidates for all openings.
For the 2024-2025 school year, we are accepting applications for all subject areas, but we anticipate to have openings in the following areas:

Contact Us

Amistad Academy
407 James Street
New Haven, CT 06513
203.773.0390 phone
203.773.0364 fax

Directions to Amistad Academy

The school is located at 407 James Street at the corner of James and Lombard Street in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven. Amistad Academy is housed in a two-story brick building.

From points along I-95
Take I-95 North or South to I-91 North
Get off Exit 5 - State Street
Turn right at the bottom of the ramp onto James Street
Through stoplight at Humphrey/Lombard Street
Make immediate left into Amistad Academy

From I-91 South
I-91 South to exit 6 (Blatcheley Street)
At the end of the off-ramp, turn left onto Blatcheley
Turn right onto State Street
Turn left at the first light onto James Street
(a large brick building is on your left)
Through stoplight at Humphrey/Lombard Street
Make immediate left into Amistad Academy

From Downtown New Haven / Yale University area
Take State Street toward Hamden
Turn right onto Humphrey
Turn right onto James
Take immediate left into Amistad’s parking lot

Via Bus
Amistad Academy is accessible by the Q bus from the New Haven Green

From the Train / Bus Station (Union Station)
Amistad a little more than a five minute drive (taxi @ 777-7777 is about $5) from the train station.
Turn right out of the train station onto State Street.
Follow State Street until you turn right onto Humphrey.
Turn right onto James and make an immediate left into Amistad’s parking lot.

Make a Contribution

At Amistad Academy, we take every step possible to protect our financial health. As we increase our student body, we continue to reduce our per-pupil spending without sacrificing the excellence of the education we provide. This year we expect to spend $10,800 per pupil - nearly $1,000 less per pupil than the New Haven Public Schools will spend - while continuing to significantly outperform NHPS on academic achievement measures.

Despite our efforts to reduce costs, each year the disparity between charter school and public school funding ($7,250 for charters vs. $11,353 for New Haven Public Schools) creates a potentially crippling shortfall. Moreover, since the state of Connecticut does not provide facility financing for charter schools until renewal of the charter - and even then only up to $500,000 - we bear sole responsibility for acquiring, renovating, and maintaining an adequate school facility. We carry a $1.7 million mortgage on the school property and have spent another $1.6 million in private contributions to purchase the building and renovate it to accommodate our full complement of 275 students. This year we must raise $1.3 million to safeguard our outstanding program and provide for a number of exciting additions, particularly a practice and performance space for our 75-piece orchestra. Each year, individual donors and foundations committed to excellence in urban education and education reform make it possible for Amistad Academy to prove that New Haven kids can reach the same high levels as their suburban peers in terms of academic achievement and public citizenship.

To learn more about Amistad Academy’s financial need or to make a contribution, please e-mail tinabeamon@amistadacademy.org or call (203) 773-0390.

Receive our Newsletter

If you would like to receive our periodic mail and e-mail newsletters, please e-mail tinabeamon@amistadacademy.org or call (203) 773-0390.


Achievement First: Achievement First is a school reform non-profit started by the leaders of Amistad Academy. Its mission is to drive dramatic student achievement to scale. In addition to starting new Achievement First schools, Achievement First will provide partner schools and school districts with a suite of services - teacher and leader recruiting, teacher and leader training, curriculum development, school evaluation, and logistical/operational support - necessary to ensure dramatic student achievement.
Calgary Academy: Our sister school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Started as a school for students with learning differences, Calgary has had tremendous success bringing below grade level students above grade level through research-based instructional methodologies.

Inlets: Inlets, Innovative Learning and Teaching Solutions, is a educational consulting and teacher training group housed at Calgary Academy. Instructional coaches and teacher-trainers from Calgary spend 25-40 days a year at Amistad.

KIPP Network: The KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Network is a group of high-performing schools modeled after two highly successful urban schools: KIPP-Houston and KIPP-New York (South Bronx). The KIPP Network funds Fisher Fellows, teacher-leaders who spend a year learning how to be a great school leader before opening a school that follows the KIPP Network’s five principless: High Expectations, Choice & Commitment, More Time, the Power to Lead, and a Focus on Results. Amistad Academy is one of a handful of schools that the KIPP Network chose (after an exhaustive inspection) to host the KIPP Fellows in 4- to 6-week residencies; during these residencies, the KIPP Fellows study how Amistad produces dramatic results for urban students.

National Association of Independent Schools: Many of Amistad’s graduates choose to go on to privately-funded day and boarding schools. NAIS’ website has a comprehensive listing of these schools.

Connecticut Mastery Test Scores

New Haven Public Schools

Connecticut Department of Education

Center for Education Reform

The Connecticut Charter Schools Network


Mathematics Worksheet Factory: This thing is just so helpful and easy that we had to include it in our links.