Inside a Free Private School for Hartford Boys

An education can dramatically alter the direction of a child's life.  It's a lesson a group of fifth and sixth grade boys have learned first hand at Covenant Preparatory School in Hartford.

"It's amazing just the progress they've made since the beginning of the year.  It really is amazing," said teacher Meara Weaver.

Covenant Prep opened its doors for fifth and sixth grade last fall.  It will add seventh and eighth grade classes next year.

"It's basically an elite school for students who want a private school education but just can not afford it," said Principal Patrick Moore.

The students attend for free and leave behind their public school education.

"A lot of times our kids are getting chewed up in the public schools.  They're getting picked on and bullied because they want to learn,” Moore said.

However, in order to remain at the school the boys must work hard.   Their day begins at 7am cleaning the school. Classes are held from 8am to 3pm and from 3 to 5pm they participate in sports.  The students leave at 5, but return from 6:30 to 8:30pm for study group.

"At first he used to cry because so much homework.  He wasn't used to it.  So now he's really adjusted.  He loves it now," said Audrey Maxwell of Hartford.  Her 10-year-old son, Shamar, is a fifth grade student at the school.

"I just feel proud.  I feel proud of my boy.  Hopefully, he's going to keep on working hard and this is what I believe hard work will bring you somewhere," she said.

The school is funded solely by donations.  It sets high expectations for students.  When they finish here they are expected to go on to a private high school and then to college.  But they are asked to return home.

"It's instilled in them to come back to Hartford after they've gone on to college and either teach here at the school or do something for the community," Moore said.

Teachers at the school do give a lot.   They work 70 hours a week.  In return they are compensated with room and board and a monthly stipend of only $325.

Meara Weaver was recruited for the job last year while a senior at Holy Cross.

"You don't think about material things and having to buy things.  You just live simply and just focus on school and working with the kids."

It is clear what is important at this school- giving students a chance at a new life.

"It's all about getting your son to go to the right place to head on the right path," said Maxwell.  "Because if you get that opportunity i believe you should stand behind it."

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