A few months after my oldest son was born, I felt confident and on top of the world. The months prior to his birth, I gradually added to my toolbox and researched everything from sleep training and homemade baby food to the language I would use when he played independently and interacted with others. I would let him make mistakes, but I would also use praise centered around the character traits I valued most. I was an assistant principal and similar to my school’s mission, I would teach my son to be self-motivated. I would teach my son to think critically. I would model for him the value in helping others. I would teach him the value and joy of lifelong learning. As a family, we will take him to art museums, restaurants, playdates, zoos, and parks.Read More
What's Happening in Character?
Each morning, the George Washington Bridge is my gateway—my means of access to New York City and more importantly my school— St. Hope Leadership Academy Charter School. If I depended on one path or gateway to the bridge, I would likely arrive at my destination a few hours late or not at all. However, in the age of navigation apps, I am thankful for the multiple paths and gateways I have to reach various destinations.Read More
Relevance A young man, formerly incarcerated, stood on our auditorium’s dimly lit stage, and asked our scholars the following question: “Raise your hand if you know someone who is currently or was recently in prison.” With each moment of silence that followed, dozens of scholars quietly raised their hands. Refoundry, a nonprofit that trains formerly incarcerated people to repurpose discarded materials into home furnishings, is one of a few organizations that our scholars partner with each year.
Each month, our scholars select a social or environmental issue or organization that is relevant to them, for which they are passionate. Our scholars select a social or environmental issue that directly affects their families and/or their communities in Harlem and the Bronx. Mrs. Stephanie Fernandez, who also mentors our student government, and Ms. Karina Perez, who also mentors our National Junior Society, mentor scholars and guide them as they write lesson plans, contact organizations, and write proposals to our school’s Board of Directors and administration. However, it is because these issues are selected by and relevant to our scholars that we witnessed the marriage of service and learning, that we saw a month dedicated to “Reducing Recidivism” or “Equality” go beyond the canned food drive.
by Meghann Persenaire, Assistant Principal of St. HOPE Leadership Academy, a 2015 New York School of Character
A few days ago, we welcomed approximately 150 families to our 3rd Annual Family Fair, an event that replaced what makes many families groan, “Back to School Night.” I recall my own parents quietly sighing as they drove off to another “Back to School Night” to sit in desks too small for them and listen to our teachers talk on and on about what we’d be learning, among other things they would soon forget.
Each September, we turn our gymnasium into a state fair-like atmosphere. Each grade team has a table, uniforms are sold for a percentage off, St HOPE “swag” if freely given, food and refreshments are overflowing, and we even raffle off several great prizes. When parents arrived a few days ago, they were welcomed and given a passport and were also given instructions to obtain stamps in their passport by visiting each table while also learning about our school’s offerings. Parents received a stamp when they setup their parent account for our online standards-based grading system, and parents received another stamp by visiting the table hosted by their scholar’s teachers. While there, parents received course syllabi, magnets with teacher contact information, and more St HOPE “swag.”Read More