Freshman Focus Network

Grade 9 on-track performance is highly positively correlated with on-time high school graduation and postsecondary access and success. Through the Freshman Focus Network, and building on a foundation of years of impactful work within our core network, RISE aims to partner with schools and districts to strengthen structures, systems, and practices in order to further establish key conditions for success around the Grade 9 transition. The network includes a combination of supports for individual participant schools and for the network at large, through gatherings of educators for opportunities to learn, collaborate, and share best practices.

Interested in partnering with RISE? Click here to learn more about joining the 2024-25 school year cohort. Contact us at for more information.

Our Freshman Focus Network launches as a follow on network opportunity from our Grade 9 Summer Symposium that occurs annually in late June. Click here to learn more and register! In the meantime, please feel free to reach out for an introductory conversation to learn more about how to be involved in this exciting, and growing, network of high schools throughout New England!

Our Current Partners Include:

  • Burncoat H.S. (Worcester, MA)
  • Casco Bay H.S. (Portland, ME)
  • Crosby H.S. (Waterbury, CT)
  • Danbury H.S. (Danbury, CT)
  • Deering H.S. (Portland, ME)
  • Doherty H.S. (Worcester, MA)
  • Hillhouse H.S. (New Haven, CT)
  • Kennedy H.S. (Waterbury, CT)
  • New London H.S (New London, CT)
  • North H.S. (Worcester, MA)
  • Norwich H.S. (Norwich, NY)
  • Portland H.S. (Portland, ME)
  • Salem HS. (Salem, MA)
  • South H.S. (Worcester, MA)
  • Stamford H.S. (Stamford, CT)
  • Wilbur Cross H.S. (New Haven, CT)
  • Wilby H.S. (Waterbury, CT)
  • Worcester Tech H.S. (Worcester, MA)

Hear From Our
Freshman Focus Network Partners

“Through this work, collaboration has happened among our three high schools. We meet monthly and share strategies with each other. Additionally, the site visit to Platt High School was amazing, unlike any other conference! Folks came out of it with real things to start trying right away.”

- Pamela Otunnu, Director of Secondary Academic Access and Outcomes, Portland Public Schools (Portland, ME)

“RISE has given us a lot of tools and shared a wealth of resources but has also been very flexible about tailoring for us and structuring time around where we need support. We have gotten a lot out of it!”

- Shamus Mruk, Grade 9 Assistant Principal, Salem HS (Salem, MA)

“When I took over as AP I pushed working with RISE, in conjunction with our school improvement plan which focuses on Grade 9 and on-track achievement. With RISE, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. They are doing the work and it’s been successful.”

- Karlyn Fitzpatrick, Asst. Principal, Kennedy High School (Waterbury, CT)

“As a result of our work with RISE, we have begun to see a change in mindsets. Students learn in different ways, and that’s okay.  It’s not just about completing the work, but about the learning that occurs in each classroom. And we have seen significant increases in on-track rates in the last year – by 12-14% in some quarters!”

- Daniel Falcucci, Grade 9 Success Coordinator, Burncoact High School (Worcester, MA)