Not long ago, Scott and Sarah Given faced a dilemma: they wanted to send their young children to a quality kindergarten, but they weren’t satisfied with their Boston-area options. They also balked at private school tuition; both the Givens had attended public schools in their youth. “We felt stuck,” Scott recalls.
But unlike other families, the Givens had an advantage – Scott had worked extensively in early education, and he worked as both teacher and principal. For eight years, Given served as CEO of UP Education Network, a nonprofit school management organization that helped restructure under-performing schools. In that time, his organization helped establish no fewer than six schools in the state of Massachusetts.
Now, Given is putting this experience to good use – by establishing The Croft School in Wayland Square. Croft is a private grade school, but instead of pillared facades and starched uniforms, the new institution focuses on quality instruction and affordable tuition. The name comes from Harold Croft, one of Given’s most influential high school teachers.
“For us, the words that are most important are balance, rigor, and student-centeredness,” says Given. “We steer away from the lecture-style classroom. We facilitate small group lessons, we use data to inform our instruction, and we always customize our approach to each child’s academic ability and learning style. So, ‘college prep meets Montessori’ wouldn’t be totally precise, but it’s close.”
The Croft School will be based in a newly renovated, 8,000-square-foot facility on Wayland Street. The faculty roster includes Lincoln School and Moses Brown veterans. Croft will start with a kindergarten class of 20 students, then add another grade each year. By 2024, when the original class graduates from fifth grade, Croft will reach its maximum enrollment of 120 students. General tuition is $17,900 per year, while Wheeler typically costs $32,090 and Moses Brown $31,210.
Given found great success in Massachusetts, but Providence’s neighborly demeanor and lower cost of living have helped the Croft School enormously. Given frequently meets interested parents by meeting for coffee. “I’ve felt very welcomed by so many different families and community stakeholders,” he says. “On the East Side, everyone knows everyone. That was sort of true in Boston, but it is a whole different level down here.” 179 Wayland Avenue