With the system-wide change, King now has her planning periods built back into her workday, an evening commute with less traffic, and more free time when she leaves.
“I don’t bring anything home,” King said, noting she’s even been getting to the gym after work. “I can focus on being a mom.”
Like KIPP, Boston Collegiate has something to offer its teachers who become parents. And by at least one measure, the charter school has succeeded in establishing its reputation as family-friendly place to work: A dozen staffers were pregnant last school year, something of a challenge for a school with a 65-person teaching staff.
“Everyone here is so excited for everyone else when they're having a baby,” said Sarah Muncey, director of family and community relations. “It's a real community of moms and dads.”
The school started a daycare in 2010 after it opened a new building—a feature of the school that visitors always notice first, Muncey said.
With so many babies arriving, there’s been competition for the daycare, which charges $60 a day and has space for 15 children. Muncey asked for a spot when she was just six weeks pregnant.
In the Boston Collegiate upper-school building, there’s also a room dedicated to mothers—teachers who want to breast pump when they return from maternity leave. For lower-school teachers with babies in the daycare, it’s a quick trip to nurse during breaks or planning periods.
When she started her 12th year at the school, sixth-grade math teacher Bridget Adam, 34, was among the first teachers with a baby at Boston Collegiate, which opened 17 years ago and is a small standalone school with 700 students.
In the early days, the administration didn’t seem to trust staff members. Getting time off—even for a funeral—wasn’t automatic, said Adam, who has a 6-year-old son and a daughter who’s almost three.
"You requested a day off, and you were told no. People worked so hard," she said. But the culture mellowed as the school became more established and as new administrators joined the leadership.
"We have made some significant changes,” she said, including by enlisting teachers on a formal committee aimed at retaining staff. (The committee, notably, helped raise pay at the school, bringing it to 90 percent of that offered by the district.)
With her first child she arranged a schedule so that she could arrive an hour later and drop him off at daycare. When the daycare opened, after her daughter was born, Adam was able to breastfeed at school. "They've been flexible with me," she said.
But combining motherhood with the intensity of a charter school teaching job still has its challenges: “There was really no time by myself," she said. “I always had one kid attached to me or 25 kids raising their hands asking for help.”
The effort to accommodate families appears to be paying off. Boston Collegiate saw 85 percent of its teachers return on average for each of the last six years – up from 80 percent on average between 2000 and 2007.