Samantha Doolittle was born and raised in Massachusetts. She graduated from Wachusett Regional High School in 2010, then earned her Bachelor’s degree at Mount Holyoke College, where she double majored in English Literature and Theatre Arts. As a college junior, she won the Beinecke Scholarship, a national scholarship for advanced graduate study. In her senior year, she wrote an honors thesis exploring African American race performativity in contemporary American theatre (it was an amazing experience, but a lot of crying was involved). She graduated Magna Cum Laude with High Honors from Mount Holyoke in 2014 and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After studying Dramaturgy at UMass Amherst for a year, she realized her passion lies in teaching, so she withdrew from the program in order chase her dreams! She graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with her M.Ed in 2016. Sam is deeply committed to social justice and educational equity, and it permeates all aspects of her life. In her free time, she loves to: hoard (and read!) books; tend to her 36 houseplants; cry about how much she loves her cat, Benny; bake cookies and cakes she can’t possibly finish on her own; take concerningly long naps; wander around the city discovering new places, sometimes for hours (ask her about the time she accidentally walked to Saugus!); and spend time with her incredible family and friends.
Please watch this video to learn more about our school.
ALA’s Early College Program at Merrimack College
Welcome to Abbott Lawrence Academy!
Since its founding more than 5 years ago, ALA has been preparing high school students with an education for a lifetime.
Our ideal destination; where our school wants to be. ALA believes that we are a family that fosters student development academically and socially while equipping students to matriculate and succeed in higher education and beyond. By retaining the best and brightest in Lawrence, ALA works to integrate and ensure all students are active contributors to the Lawrence High School community while empowered to transform and advance the city of Lawrence as a whole.
The route to our destination; it is specific to our school and what we do on a daily basis. Abbott Lawrence Academy is a 9-12 community that provides a high quality, rigorous, college preparatory education for each student in a safe and nurturing learning environment that values hard work, determination and citizenship. By enlisting families and community partners, ALA promises a first-of-its kind experience: the personalization of an accelerated academic program combined with access to the robust enrichment programs available at LHS. The result is a school that challenges students every day and ultimately prepares them for admission to the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities.
The excitement begins in the summer! Abbott Lawrence Academy (ALA) students complete a summer reading/writing assignment before walking through our doors. After ninth grade, ALA students attend an intensive, five-week summer program focused on combining rigorous academic work with enrichment opportunities.
ALA students are determined and encouraged to be the best they can be. The program is competitive, and only accepts up to 100 students per grade level per year. Students who are accepted show exceptional promise and drive in the classroom and community and are willing to make mistakes in order to learn and grow.
ALA students care about their community. Our program requires students to engage in meaningful community service work both within our school and in the community at large. By instilling leadership and the core values of hard work, determination, and citizenship, ALA strives to develop caring and well-informed graduates who will make an impact of the city of Lawrence, the state of Massachusetts, and the world!
Abbott Lawrence Academy (ALA) is a small, accelerated 9-12th grade honors high school within the larger Lawrence High School campus. Founded in 2015 with an inaugural 9th grade class, ALA was created to retain the best and brightest students of the city. ALA is the district’s first exam high school, admitting students each year through a rigorous application and entrance exam process, enrolling only up to 100 students per year. ALA offers students in Lawrence an opportunity previously unavailable to most: the chance to experience a rich and rewarding honors education in the tradition of the most prestigious independent schools in the country, free of charge. We currently have 90 seniors, 82 juniors, 82 sophomores, and 70 freshmen, and graduated our first class in the spring of 2019. Our current school demographic breakdown is: 84% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 6% White, 1% African-American, and 1% Multi-Race. As part of the Lawrence High School campus, ALA is accredited by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
David Wendler was born in Houston, Texas, but raised in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Wendler graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2010. After graduation, Mr. Wendler worked as an English Teacher at Colégio Diocesano de São José from 2010 to 2011, located in Macau, China SAR. He also previously taught English at East Aurora High School from 2011 to 2013 in Aurora, Illinois, and at Catalyst Maria High School in Chicago, Illinois, from 2013 to 2016. Joining Abbott Lawrence Academy in 2016, Mr. Wendler currently teaches all the ALA sophomores in Pre-AP English II as well as upperclassmen in AP English Language & Composition and Creative Writing: Poetry. Previous course offerings at ALA include Debate and Philosophy of Human Behavior. In his free time, Mr. Wendler tries to stay physically active outside as well as emotionally active watching sports (Houston Astros, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, LSU Tigers). His dog is Charles.
Alex Chaconas was raised in Natick, MA a suburb west of Boston. He graduated from Hamilton University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. In college, he played a year of soccer and rugby for the Continentals while serving as an RA in the dorms. Alex began teaching right out of college and completed a Masters of Education at Temple University in Philadelphia during night classes in 2011. He has over 10 years of experience in high school Mathematics and Chemistry classrooms from New Hampshire to Florida and began teaching in Lawrence in 2019. Outside of work, Alex enjoys playing basketball, strategy games, drawing, and building small pieces of furniture.
Steve Melis was born in Greece, but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. After studying English at Williams College and Oxford University, he lived in New York City, working in publishing and then completing a year of City Year at PS 112 in Queens. After realizing that education is his calling, he joined Teach for America and taught English and Theater at several schools: 4 years at De Anza High School in Richmond, CA, and 1 year at Noble Street College Prep in Chicago, IL. He then moved to Massachusetts and has been teaching at Abbott since its first ever sophomore class. In his free time, Mr. Melis enjoys loud music, fancy cats, long-distance running, and video games.