The UCAP School Founder and Director Announces Retirement After 30 Years

May 4, 2018
(Providence, RI)

Robert DeBlois, Director of The UCAP School in Providence, announced his retirement effective June 2019. In 1989, following a career in urban education that brought forth a keen understanding of the challenges many urban, low-income, and immigrant students faced, DeBlois founded what was then called The Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program. His goal was to prevent underserved urban students from dropping out by creating a school that rewarded them for their demonstration of knowledge and skills instead of providing credit for time in a classroom seat. The model, unheard of at the time, promised to act as a safety net for failing students, not only helping them to succeed in middle school, but also helping them learn at an accelerated pace, to catch up to their peers when they returned to high school.

One of DeBlois’ major goals in establishing UCAP was to demonstrate that public education is capable of meeting some of its most serious challenges. Throughout its history, the school has consistently shown that students who need a second chance can – and will – take advantage of opportunities.  Under DeBlois’ direction and working in collaboration with the Providence, Cranston and Central Falls school districts, the school has helped more than 1600 middle school students return back to their school districts, caught up to grade level, and armed with skills to support their success in high school and beyond.

As DeBlois and The UCAP School enter their 30th year, and DeBlois prepares for retirement, both have earned substantial recognition. DeBlois was bestowed an honorary doctor of pedagogy from the University of Rhode Island and received the inaugural Murray Family Prize for Community Enrichment. The UCAP School was the subject of an award-winning documentary, Accelerating America.

In a letter announcing his retirement to supporters and friends of the school, DeBlois stated, “In this role I have had the privilege of watching countless students achieve their potential in education, under the guidance of dedicated adults who care deeply about the school and the students we serve, and I have had the good fortune of working with some of the finest educators in Rhode Island and the nation. While this is not an easy decision, I believe The UCAP School and its students have a secure future that is defined more by possibilities than by limitations.”

“Rob DeBlois is synonymous with The UCAP School, and while we can’t imagine the school without his steadfast leadership and vision, it is his vision and legacy that will enable The UCAP School to grow, thrive and adapt to keep pace with the evolving education landscape,” expressed Jeannine Nota-Masse, Superintendent Cranston School Department.

The UCAP School and Fund for UCAP Boards of Directors will form a committee of board members, teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders to conduct a national search to identify DeBlois’ successor.