Special to the Journal
Formally known as the SeaCoast Alternative High School in Beachmont, the CityLab Innovation High School is now booming more than ever before with innovative programs, community projects, and student involvement. Dr. Stacey Mulligan, Principal of CityLab Innovation High School, has worked tirelessly over the last few years to adapt the school into what it is today. Her innovative ideas and dedication to the future of Revere make Dr. Stacey Mulligan a clear choice for February’s Public Servant of the Month.
Q: What do you do in the city?
A: I am the Principal of CityLab Innovation High School, formerly known as SeaCoast Alternative High School. Last year we participated in a school re-design to better serve students in the city who are looking for a nontraditional high school experience. We offer a multitude of different opportunities for our students like internships, dual enrollment, and exploratory courses in all different vocations. We purposefully named the school CityLab because we wanted the city, both Revere and Boston, to be our students’ classrooms.
Q: What is your connection to Revere?
A: My first introduction to the city was actually from two proud Revere natives. In 2009 I started my doctoral degree at UMass Boston, and one of the first connections I made was with Dr. Christina Porter, the Director of Humanities of Revere Public Schools. She would often share all of the wonderful things that were happening in RPS. Years later, Dr. John Perella, Director of Youth Engagement & Success, hired me as his Assistant Principal in Medford. Soon after he returned to Revere, he thought I would be a good fit and recruited me to join the district as the Principal of SeaCoast, and the rest is history!
Q: What has been the highlight of your job so far?
A: The highlight of my job by far has been how easily the students have adapted to our new model of the high school. I definitely had to take a leap of faith with all of the new programing and changes. With the reputations of alternative high schools, I wasn’t sure if people would trust me with their children. I have been overwhelmed by all of the love and support from the families, city, and community in supporting our new school. The students have exceeded my expectations with their independence, willingness to try new things, and by putting themselves way out of their comfort zones.
Q: Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing over at CityLab High School. What programming are you doing that is new that Revere residents may not know about?
A: At CityLab we put an emphasis on merging high school, college, and industry experiences together. On Wednesdays we offer exploratory courses that run for two periods and change each quarter so our students get to try out all different types of pathways. So far this year we’ve offered courses in Cosmetology, Tech Design, Architecture, Culinary, Robotics, Woodworking, and more. We currently have our second cohort of students dually enrolled in ELA courses with Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology, who travel into Boston two days a week for their classes, as well as students who have received college credits from UMass Amherst for participating in an Architecture Pathway. Students involved in coding and college-level math courses travel regularly to Cambridge to The Foundry through our partnership with Digital Ready and UMass. We even have students assisting with Revere High School’s production of In the Heights, working on their set design one day a week. With the small size of our school, we are able to hone in on our ability to be flexible and hear from our students’ about their interests and work on bringing those directly to them. For example, students shared their desire for a language course and we were able to hire a Japanese teacher and offer Japanese classes. We are in the process of creating a biotech pathway and are always looking for more opportunities to support our students.
Q: If you could give yourself a piece of advice when you were in high school, what would you give?
A: I went to a small private high school in Worcester. My school encouraged independent thinking and discovery, was very rigorous, and academic focused. I wasn’t the strongest academic student, but I was always curious and wanted to learn. My advice to my high school self would be to always keep that curiosity even when things get challenging. And to not be afraid to put yourself out there in spaces where you don’t think you belong. Everyone deserves a seat at the table.