Steppingstone Points East Boston Student in the Right Direction

East Boston resident Daniel Haro counts the Boston Natural Areas Network among his volunteer efforts.

An East Boston student’s journey from East Boston to Brookline’s Dexter School started long before his commute on public transportation began in 10th grade.

Academic opportunities began taking root for Daniel Haro when his Samuel Adams Elementary School principal recommended him back in fifth grade for The Steppingstone Academy because she saw promise in his ability as a student.

A free after school and summer academic program, The Steppingstone Academy prepares academically motivated students for success at Boston’s competitive independent and public exam schools, and eventually college.

Haro began the 14-month academic component the summer before sixth grade, attended classes after school on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the school year, and followed with completing a second six-week summer session before entering Boston Latin Academy in the seventh grade.

Three years later, Haro transferred to The Dexter School, which offered him a smaller, close-knit learning environment and additional growth opportunities.

A first generation Mexican-American, Haro credits Steppingstone with creating options for him.

“If it wasn’t for Steppingstone, my family never would have known that a private school was a possibility,” said Haro.

His grades greatly improved and he became an active member of the Dexter community.  Haro is a member of the soccer, squash, and baseball teams and a member of the multicultural language club and art club.

Combining his technical skills and artistic eye, he also completed an architecture apprenticeship and volunteered his time to the Boston Natural Areas Network, where he worked on East Boston Greenway initiatives and helped design one of its many murals.

“A great sense of community exists at Dexter, and I’m lucky to be a part of it,” he said.

Almost every Saturday, Daniel participates in Steppingstone’s SMASH (Saturday Mentoring and Study Hall), where he goes for tutoring and homework time. The Steppingstone Academy also provides extensive college readiness support services, including course selection assistance, steeply discounted SAT preparation classes, college tours, and financial aid advising.

“Steppingstone taught me organizational and leadership skills and I developed confidence in my abilities at an early age,” said Haro.  “The Steppingstone commencement ceremony after the 14-month academic program is not the end – they have been my supporters since I was 10.”

Haro visited several colleges this past summer with Steppingstone advisors and is thinking about pursuing an engineering degree at either a small liberal arts college or a private urban university.

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