In a recent conversation, longtime trustee and incoming Board Chair Reverend Doctor Gregory Groover shared how pleased he is to see the school move into its new building at 395 Columbia Road in Uphams Corner, “I’m happy to hear how many students from Dorchester have signed up and been selected through the lottery! It’s really important that this neighborhood now has a school of its own.”
As Pastor of the Historic Charles Street AME Church, and the former Chair of the Boston School Committee, he has both lived and professional experience that provide him with insight into what the school can offer in its new location at the intersection of Columbia Road and Quincy Street. “There are two big things that distinguish the school: first, Conservatory Lab provides a high-quality public education that is visible and accessible to the neighborhood, and second it showcases the music and art that our students create with our wonderful teachers and partners. About two-thirds of students are from Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan so it has the potential to make Conservatory Lab a magnet for the community cultural wealth in our neighborhood, driven by the voices of our young people.”
The school is more than a hopeful cornerstone in Dorchester, it is a city-wide resource. Conservatory Lab attracts neighborhood attendance, and the lottery includes all of Boston, connecting students across neighborhoods. Rev. Groover continued, “As the school starts to take on its new role in our community, we have been thinking about how to connect to other community-based organizations, and external partners like Berklee. When it’s safe to do so, we hope to offer some exciting arts events in Uphams Corner and Grove Hall that residents might not have access to otherwise.”
Rev. Groover first heard about Conservatory Lab while serving as the Chair of the Boston School Committee. In that role, he made it a goal to understand the entire ecosystem of schools in the City of Boston by visiting every school. One of the first charter schools that Rev. Groover visited was Conservatory Lab, at its old home in Brighton. Groover explained, “Students greeted me with a sign that read ‘Welcome Reverend Groover’ for what was supposed to be an hour or so. It was so well organized and moving to visit classes and hear directly from teachers, that I spent the whole day. I left there deeply influenced by what Conservatory Lab Charter School was doing with music and authentic learning,” he concluded, “It really blew me away!”
Rev. Groover’s own children also deeply value music. Both of them grew up in the church, surrounded by music, went on to complete master’s degrees at Berklee, and still work as musicians and educators. In fact, Rev. Groover was inspired to join the board four years ago while his daughter Gerami was working as a Resident Artist at Conservatory Lab.
To this day, what originally blew Rev. Groover away on his first visit to Conservatory Lab still motivates his service as a member of the board of trustees, “Learning music is a way of preparing students for any type of profession,” he reflected, “Learning in an ensemble, the way students at Conservatory Lab do, provides viable tools like collaboration and leadership for students to express themselves and become advocates for social justice.”