Founded by a group of Catholic lay people, Nativity opened its doors in the Fall of 2000 to twelve 5th- and 6th-grade boys. Executive Director Barry Hynes, former teacher at Nativity Mission School in New York, and founder of Nativity Preparatory School of Boston, responded to the request of a sponsoring foundation to start a tuition-free school in New Bedford for boys from families who would otherwise not have been able to afford private school. He recruited a principal with teaching experience at NP Boston and, with three mission-driven teachers committed to working six days (and many evenings) a week as classroom teachers, coaches, janitors, advisors, and office staff, worked to adapt the Nativity model to New Bedford. This model of highly committed, young, enthusiastic teachers remains a pillar of the school’s success today.
Having expanded dramatically in its first years of operation, Nativity now boasts an annual enrollment of approximately 55 students total in grades 5-8. Nativity Prep graduates have gone on to local public high schools, including Greater New Bedford Regional Voc-Tech High School and Bristol County Agricultural School among others, and have also ventured farther afield to schools such as Deerfield Academy, Groton School, St. Paul’s School, Tabor Academy, and Boston College High School.
No tuition is charged; funds are raised through contributions from friends, sponsors, corporations and foundations. Following the Nativity format, the operating budget is small, as all teachers receive only room, board, health insurance and a modest stipend. Most work for two years; some stay longer.
While rooted in Jesuit traditions, the school has no diocesan affiliation; students, teachers and staff come from a variety of faith backgrounds. The students are exposed to the history and development of a diversity of faiths as a base for understanding values and ethical behavior. Service to community is a part of our heritage and permeates the culture of the school.
Our model offers a life-changing experience through educational enrichment to committed and promising young men of New Bedford. We emphasize students’ responsibility to give back to their community and instill in the students a goal to return as teachers one day. To that end, there is a graduate support program that encourages recent alumni to return for evening study and monitors the academic progress of our graduates.