History

City High School co-founders

City High School co-founders Carrie Brennan, Eve Rifkin, and Brett Goble at a school retreat at Las Milpitas Farm, January 2014.

City High School was borne out of a vision for a school that was:

  • small and intimate, allowing teachers to provide an authentic educational experience that challenges and supports each and every student
  • rooted in hands-on exploration of real world issues and project-based learning, providing relevance for student learning
  • committed to preparing all students for entrance and success in college
  • modeled after best practices in the Coalition of Essential Schools’ network of member schools around the country

In the early 2000s, the founding co-directors – Carrie BrennanEve Rifkin and Brett Goble – collaborated with a team of highly qualified teachers, pioneering families, innovative community partners, and an active board of directors, to build a school that matched this vision.

Click here to listen to City High School co-founders Eve Rifkin and Brett Goble reflect on the founding of City High School in an interview recorded by KUAT in September 2010.

City High School opened in September 2004 with 80 students in grades 9 and 10. City High School now enrolls close to 200 students in grades 9-12 and has over 125 graduates pursuing a variety of college and career pathways in Arizona and beyond. The school is housed in the historic Cele Peterson building on Pennington Street in downtown Tucson. The school’s location and size allow teachers and students to engage in frequent field studies, using Tucson as a textbook and engaging in real world learning. “We see Downtown as the cultural, political, and economic hub of the city,” said co-founder Carrie Brennan. “It’s central to our mission.”

From 2003-2006, City High School received significant school start-up funds through two primary sources: 1) High Tech High Learning, a network of small schools focused on real-world learning, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and modeled after High Tech High charter school in San Diego; and 2) the federal government’s Charter Schools Program funding for new schools.