About City Neighbors Hamilton

Our Mission

The mission of City Neighbors Hamilton is to provide an extraordinary public school education with high academic achievement for all students. Our ultimate goal for our school is that through project-based learning, arts integration, parental involvement and community outreach, the students leave enlivened, with deep awareness of themselves, their families and the outside community, and with the capacity to be good citizens.

Our Educational Approach

The staff of City Neighbors Hamilton share the goal that every parent has for his/her child: to learn and be successful in school and in life. The educational approach at City Neighbors Hamilton focuses on teaching for thinking and understanding. Using the State Content Standards as an academic framework, we set high expectations for every child. We believe in a project-based learning environment where children can learn more in the process of exploring ideas, making predictions, building models of their ideas, and testing outcomes as they apply their knowledge. Through this process, we encourage children to be empowered by the construction of knowledge, by reflection upon their own lives, and through consideration of what is good for the community at large. As a result, our students become passionate learners as we engage them in work that makes sense to them.

Our Vision

At CNH our classrooms serve as individual model communities where issues are discussed, differences in perspectives are welcomed and children work cooperatively, rather than competitively. The CNH governance model – including parents, business and community leaders, teachers, students and the principal – reflect our commitment to cooperative governance, based on the principles of human dignity, consensus, and freedom. Our belief and experience is that when given a strong structure to support generative thinking as well as meaningful activities to perform, all children and adults strive for excellence. Because of this focus, CNH’s impact on the lives of students and families and the community will be powerful, positive and long lasting.

Our Philosophy

Our unique model combines a progressive education with a powerful governance model that relies on meaningful parent involvement, community outreach, and the inspiration of the schools of Reggio Emilia.

Our Statement on Diversity

Diversity is essential to who we are.  In this spirit, City Neighbors Hamilton embraces the diversity within our school, community and world. We endeavor to create an environment that values all people of any ability, age, family structure, gender, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.  We strive to create this environment through our curriculum, interactions, staffing, policies and procedures.  As the families, staff, and students of City Neighbors Hamilton, we accept the responsibility to help every member of our school feel safe, respected, and valued.

What is Reggio Emilia?

Reggio Emilia is the name given to a teaching style that has evolved in the Northern Italian municipality of Reggio Emilia. Fundamental to this educational philosophy is the perception of children as being strong, intellectually rich, and possessing great potential. In this educational model, the teacher works with children to stimulate and deepen critical thought in a research partnership. In Reggio Emilia, knowledge is seen as something that is socially constructed and should be based on ideas and experiences that are real and meaningful to the child.

Curriculum Overview

Our Story

The story of City Neighbors Hamilton begins with City Neighbors Charter School. Beginning as a grassroots movement among a group of city neighbors in the summer of 2003, City Neighbors Charter School has been leading the way for great public education – not only at our schools, but for all children in Baltimore City. The CNCS application was the first to be accepted but only after court action that took a stand for charter schools; our actions cleared the way for dozens of new charter schools to open. CNCS served as the founders of the Coalition of Baltimore Charter Schools and serve on the Board of the Maryland Charter School Network. Led by our efforts, the ruling for equitable funding for charter schools was most recently upheld by the Maryland State Court of Appeals (July 30, 2007). Since that time we continue to advocate for equitable funding for all public schools.

City Neighbors fought hard to open its doors, but it never lost sight of its larger calling–and the calling of all charter schools: To serve as a model and a challenge to all schools to meet the ideals of education. City Neighbors originally planned an even further expansion of its campus on Raspe Avenue, including the construction of a $3.5 million building attached to our current one. However, as our program solidified and our wait lists grew, we were prompted to begin thinking about how we could, instead, provide a unique urban education to more students and families. On one hand, we believe strongly in the need for the small school model – a place where all children are known and feel cared for. On the other hand, we have always felt a calling beyond our own students, a calling that led us to serve as trailblazers and leaders in the public school world, and that thrust us into leadership roles and as partners in systemic change.

So, in order to preserve our small-school model and serve more students, we shifted our thoughts from expansion to replication. We submitted two charter applications to Baltimore City Public Schools: one for City Neighbors Hamilton (K-8) and one for City Neighbors High School. After extensive renovations to the campus that was formerly Hamilton Middle School in northeast Baltimore City, City Neighbors Hamilton opened in 2009 with grades K through 3, expanding each year to reach full capacity in 2014. In 2010, City Neighbors High School opened with ninth grade and now serves students in grades 9 -12.

Read the City Neighbors Decade Report