SABIS® International Charter School
SABIS® International Charter School (SICS), located in Springfield, Massachusetts, has been changing the lives of students since it opened in 1995. The school, which was the first public charter school managed and operated by SABIS® in the U.S., made the world-renowned SABIS®private educational system accessible to public school students in the U.S. and changed students’ lives from the moment it opened.
The story behind SICS is steeped in the kind of lore that surrounds most legends. Previously the Glickman Elementary School and ranked as the second-worst performing school in the Springfield school district, the school’s future hung in the balance. It was being considered for takeover by SABIS®, an Education Management Organization (EMO) that would operate the school as a public charter school, but the takeover option was being hotly contested by charter school opponents and critics. In a final showdown fit for television movies, with a group of 200 local parents rallying in favor of SABIS® opening and a jam-packed city hall, SABIS® was awarded the charter and everything changed.
The SABIS® International Charter School opened under SABIS® management and quickly rose from the bottom of the district rankings to become one of the top high schools in the U.S. Today, 23 years later, the school serves over 1,500 students in Kindergarten through Grade 12, has a waiting list of more than 2,000, has graduated over 1,300 students, and has a 100% success rate of getting graduating seniors accepted to college or university.
Academic Performance & Achievements
As a member of the global SABIS® Network, SICS implements the proven SABIS® Educational System™. The comprehensive program includes a rigorous curriculum aligned to state and national standards, targeted instructional materials that support the learning process and foster the development of higher order thinking skills, and ongoing assessments that give everyone involved in the learning process a 360-degree view of progress. The system challenges students, supports their individual growth, provides student leadership opportunities, and creates a culture of high achievement for all.
The school’s achievements are both indisputable and inspiring, with many graduates going on to become the first member of their family ever to attend college. SICS students’ preparation for college starts early and is buoyed by a mission to qualify every student for admission to college. Along the way, students build a solid academic foundation and draw upon it when taking annual state exams in grades 3 through 10. In fact, SICS students consistently outperform the entire Springfield district on state exams in English and mathematics, reinforcing the quality choice the school represents for parents in the city, and by the 10th grade, SICS students perform better than the state in English and mathematics.
Consistently strong academic performance by SICS students has earned the school a long-standing place among the best high schools in the U.S. In 2017 for the eighth year in a row, the school was one of only 6,041 public high schools out of over 22,000 in 50 states and the District of Columbia chosen to represent the best in the country. SICS received its eighth silver medal from U.S. News & World Report and further solidified its legendary status.
Equipped with a solid academic foundation and top results on their Grade 10 state exams, SICS students go on to complete high school and gain admission to college or university. In fact, 100% of SICS graduates from 2001, the first year the school had a Grade 12, have been accepted to college. Helping them realize the dream of attending college are millions of dollars in scholarships earned by SICS graduates each year. Between 2011 and 2017, SICS graduating seniors earned over $72.8 million in college scholarships.
“SICS does a very good job at preparing the students here at SICS for college and beyond.” − Genesis Pieczarka, Grade 10
In addition to impressive and inspiring academic achievements, SICS students also excel in developing and pursuing their talents and interests. In sports, the school has had several of its teams and individual athletes recognized as champions in basketball, soccer, cheerleading, and wrestling. In intellectual competitions, the school is a perennial powerhouse at the American International College (AIC) Model Congress event. In the most recent Model Congress event, SICS students earned five of the 11 possible awards including Best Delegation; 2nd place and a 50% scholarship to AIC; 3rd place and a 25% scholarship to AIC; and two honorable mentions.
The school has also built a strong reputation in the Academic Decathlon, a competition in which they will field a team at the state level at Harvard in March 2018. In keeping with the school’s tradition of debate and intellectual excellence, one SICS student recently won the Alpha Phi Alpha 2017 Annual Senator Edward R. Brooke III Oratorical Contest. The student delivered a motivational speech at the Mass Mutual Center for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in front of an audience of over 2,000 people.
The SABIS Student Life Organization®
In addition to receiving a top-quality education, SICS students learn to become compassionate, upstanding members of their communities. They learn the importance of being active members of society and understand that they have an important role to play in making their communities and the world around them a better place. SICS students learn all this through their involvement in the SABIS Student Life Organization®, or SLO®, which is an integral part of life at SICS. This year, SLO® made a huge impact, both in school and in the community at large.
So far in the 2017-18 school year, SLO® has focused its efforts on promoting togetherness and unity throughout the school, encouraging all students from all grades to accept challenges they might not have taken on before. One example is Unity and Kindness Week. Throughout the week, prefects from the SLO® Lower School and Outreach departments pooled their efforts and read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? to students in the SICS Lower School. Lower School teachers then documented every time a student did something kind, and it was then announced to the entire Lower School. In the Middle School and High School, students were all given sticky notes and encouraged to write something kind about someone else. The notes were then placed on the school’s Unity and Kindness Board in the main lobby.
“The Student Life Organization® provides an opportunity for everyone to take a leadership role inside of our great community. It teaches us skills such as leadership, organization, and accountability that we will use later on in life.” − Antonio Rivera, Grade 10
Students at SICS are taking their kindness well beyond the confines of their school premises and organizing numerous events and activities designed to make a difference in their community. This academic year, the students collected over 2,000 lbs. of canned goods and then donated them to a local food pantry. During the holiday season, students also organized a toy drive, collecting over 3,000 toys, which they then donated to a local children’s hospital. In January, SICS held its annual blood drive, collecting 32 pints of blood that will help save close to 90 lives!
Life after SICS
With such a solid foundation of knowledge and skills, it's no wonder that the over 1,300 graduates from SICS have gone on to do great things. They have become doctors, lawyers, engineers, politicians, teachers, advocates, role models, leaders, and dreamers. They can be found in Springfield, across the country, and around the world giving back to their communities and proudly demonstrating how they are using their SABIS® education to change the world.
Consider Shadae Thomas Harris, who graduated from SICS in 2001. After graduating, she attended Smith College and then completed a master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She then went on to fulfill her dream of teaching before coming full circle to become an administrator at Balliet Elementary School in Springfield. She is currently the John E. Stevens Trust Fellow as she pursues her doctorate in education leadership at Harvard. She is passionate about playing an active role in educating students who are underserved in the public education system and plans to continue her career in education after finishing her doctorate.
Consider Tara Laflamme Brignoli. Tara graduated from SICS in 2003 and went on to get her bachelor’s degree in English from Framingham State University in 2007. She was returned to SICS as a teacher from 2009 through 2014 and also completed a master’s degree in special education during this time. She left SICS to teach in a few different school districts, but discovered that she wanted to “come home to SICS,” where she is “very happy as a teacher and feels very fortunate to be home at SICS.”
Consider Alexandra (Alex) Williams, who graduated in the SICS Class of 2011. Alex received a full scholarship to Smith College, where she got her bachelor’s degree in engineering, specializing in manufacturing engineering. She is currently living happily in Manhattan in New York City and is excited to be working as a software engineer for a startup title insurance company. Her job and living in New York are not the only things that Alex is excited about. She is also excited that her nephew recently started at SICS in Kindergarten.
And the list of successful SICS graduate goes on and on and on.
The story of the SABIS® International Charter School is the stuff of legends. From the moment it opened its doors 23 years ago, the SABIS® International Charter School has been changing students’ lives. Its impact has been felt by a generation of students who have received an education that challenges them, encourages the pursuit of interests, involves them in leadership opportunities and the development of a culture of high achievement, and positions them for a future filled with possibilities.
To find out more about SICS, visit sics.sabis.net.