Rob DeBlois was, he says, born on third base, with advantages well beyond the reach of most. His family had the wherewithal to send him to private boarding school, and to get him the best treatment when he had a diving accident during his college years that left him a quadriplegic.
After graduating University of New Hampshire, he married his college sweetheart, with whom he has raised three children, and began an extraordinary career in urban education, earning a Masters in English at Brown along the way.
He soon realized that the students he was teaching faced challenges he considered far beyond the physical limitations he struggled with and decided to start a school of his own. His target population was the most challenged of the challenged – low-income, urban, mostly immigrant students with a history of school failure including the most reliable indicator that a student will drop out: repeating a grade.
His plan was to create a curriculum that eliminated the entrenched Carnegie Unit system of credit for time-in-seat and to award credit based on demonstration of knowledge and skills.
Since 1989, Rob and UCAP have garnered recognition and awards. Among others, the University of Rhode Island bestowed an honorary doctor of pedagogy on Rob, and UCAP was the subject of an award-winning documentary, Accelerating America.
More than 1200 students have matriculated from UCAP. Rob’s dream is to make UCAP’s facility the model for an urban school, and to create more schools so that more children can thrive against the odds.