San Miguel High School Works in the Tucson Community

Tucson, AZ | Submitted by Lauren Wisniewski

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Collaboration is a powerful tool for change. San Miguel High School embodies the idea of community partnerships as a way to provide a private, Catholic college and career preparatory education in order to break cycles of poverty. Established in 2004, San Miguel High School intertwines different educational components in order to ensure that youth in Tucson are prepared for success beyond high school. We have seen an immense impact on our community.

“It’s not just about high school, it’s not just about college, it’s about what you want to do later on.”
-Edward, Class of 2008

San Miguel is the only high school in Arizona to offer a rigorous college preparatory, STEM based curriculum combined with professional job experiences designed specifically to prepare students for future success. Our school is a member of the Cristo Rey Network of schools, which incorporates a business model of internships in the community in order to supplement tuition costs as well as allow students to learn about different career fields. Students work five days each month at entry-level positions in a wide variety of professional fields. This business model is the first key to our success. The employment program funds fifty percent of our students’ tuition, allowing all students, regardless of their background, to achieve the best education possible.

We currently partner with over ninety local businesses. As our students gain work experience, they become valuable team members for each business. A recent article, titled “Schools That Literally Work,” highlights how “school systems and educational entrepreneurs are looking to philanthropy in order to sustain broken business models, while it should be the other way around: schools should seek new ways to contribute to the economy.” This is the San Miguel model.

San Miguel is also proud of our 98% graduation rate, which is significantly higher than the approximately 78% national average of high school completion. Located in southern Tucson, the surrounding community is challenged by low poverty levels, high transience due to immigration, and significant problems with drugs, gangs, and violence. Due to these circumstances, youth often face a number of temptations, including dropping out of high school, entering a gang, or becoming a teen-aged parent. It is motivation for success that distinguishes a San Miguel student. Despite any challenges, our students are eager to find their personal strength and pursue their dreams. We are proud that the vast majority of our students will be the first in their families to attend college.

Our school works because it is a collaboration of rigorous academics with community engagement and necessary professional skills. It is a collaboration of our committed faculty, visionary administrative leadership, dedicated business partners, and all San Miguel High School supporters. The outcome is appropriate knowledge for our students to achieve their goals as well as support for our Tucson community.

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