As part of our Black History Month celebrations, members of the Black Employee Networking Group at Morgan Stanley visited our Harlem campus for an activity with our 5th through 8th grade boys. The group discussed confronting and overcoming fears, and made masks to represent the men that they are and want to become. At Storefront Academy Harlem, 100% of our male students graduate from high school, significantly higher than the national average of 59% for men of color.
Longtime corporate partner Morgan Stanley talked with our principal and some of our 8th grade students about some of the challenges they face and how our school sets them up for success despite those challenges.
Storefront Academy partners with instructors from Rosie’s Theater Kids to work weekly with fifth grade students to provide comprehensive classes in music, dance and drama with a goal of inspiring excellence, motivating learning, uplifting the human spirit, building confidence, and sparking a lifelong appreciation for the arts. At the end of this year's program, students perfromed songs and routines they learned including "Consider yourself" from the film Oliver and "Seize the day" from the Broadway hit musical Newsies.
Ms. Keren joined the Storefront family 24 years ago. She had just moved to New York City with her family and was looking for a teaching job. A friend invited her to visit the Storefront and she has not left since.
“I was teaching older children to begin with, and my teaching experience was you do your work, you grade your students, you write report cards for them,” Ms. Keren said. “You do what you need to do, and you go home, and you come back and do your job, and go back home, but when I came to the Storefront, I actually learned a lot of teaching here.”
Ms. Keren joined the Storefront when it was a budding beacon of hope in Harlem, and said that the Storefront’s vision is what has kept her going each day.
“The goal in teaching the children at the Storefront is that every child gets an opportunity and a chance to be the best they can be no matter what,” she said. “They may not all get there at the same time, they may not get there the same way, may not take the same route, but our intention, our hope, and our aim is that each child who comes through the school, when they leave here, they'll have a sense of accomplishment based on what they could do, not so much on what the world says they should or could do, not so much on what anyone else says they could or couldn't do, but a sense of knowing that we somehow helped them or contributed to them becoming the person that they want to be.”
Ms. Keren remembers the Storefront as a safe place in its earliest days in Harlem.
“We would come in in the morning, walk on the street, and you felt like you'd come home to your friends, and neighbors, and family,” Ms. Keren recalls. “Anyone could come into the lunchroom and have lunch or coffee or just sit around and talk. The children were warm and friendly. They loved to be here, and they loved their teachers, and they loved their environment. You could see that they were feeling that this is a place they want to be.
We would come and sit on the stoop. There was no written schedule. If you needed to sit on the street and talk to the children, you sat on the street and talked to the children. If a parent needed to be listened to, you'd stop and listen to that parent. That's not to say that there was no schooling going on, but I think everything that happened at the time was based on the needs of the children and the community.”
Teaching at the prekindergarten level will be a great finish to Ms. Keren’s teaching career.
“I love being around the little ones because they're innocent, and they're so eager to learn,” she says. “I can see their characters forming. I enjoy that I'm part of creating who they're going to be when they grow up. They're brilliant, really brilliant, and a joy to be around. They learn fast, they enjoy every moment of the day. They tell you openly and freely how they feel and what they want and don't want, and it's a wonderful, wonderful experience.”
A first grade class, The Busy Bees, at our South Bronx campus gave back this holiday season and collected books to donate to the Abraham House in the Mott Haven Section of the Bronx. Together, the class collected and donated nearly 150 books. The class' president and her teacher took a walk to deliver the books and the class discussed how they felt about what they had accomplished.
Here is some of what some members of the class had to say:
“I felt sad because they did not have books and they need books to be better readers.’’Arainah
“I felt happy that the kids who didn’t have books now have books.” Emmanuel
“I felt excited because now they could have books to read.” Da’zynae
“I felt happy dropping off the books because now children will have books to read and they can learn reading strategies.” Chloe
“I felt proud to be able to help other children to have books.” Amirah
“I felt proud that my dad was able to help me help other children by collecting so many books.” Ariella
Faculty members join the Storefront family and stay for years. We pride ourselves on our tight-knit community, and asked some of our staff to share why they choose to make Storefront Academy their home away from home.
My experience at Storefront Academy Harlem has definitely been one of growth and joy. I've become a better teacher, learner, leader, and personince I started working here in 2012. Plus, I get to do what I love every day at a place that brings me so much joy. Our ‘in-house’ motto is, ‘The children come first’ and that couldn't be any true. The level of commitment that is placed on educating as well as nurturing the whole-child is far beyond what is expected. It transforms the lives of the people who are connected to it every day, from the students and their families to the staff and the volunteers. And these are only a few of the reasons why I return to teach at Storefront each year.
- Ms. Schenelle, Head Pre-K Teacher, Storefront Academy Harlem
I enjoy my time at Storefront Academy South Bronx because it is an opportunity to help build something that will contribute to the 50 year legacy of such a great undertaking. I am passionate about educating children and the primary grades are my absolute favorite! So, to be able to impact the love of learning for developing little minds makes me excited for the future because they will be awesome scholars!
- Dr. Nicole Garcia, Principal, Storefront Academy South Bronx
Teaching at the Storefront has been extremely rewarding. At the heart of this experience are my students. Our journey together, relationships that we created, and success we share brings me immense joy. Moreover, having a supportive principal (whose door is always open), dedicated coaches and opportunities for professional development helped me become a better teacher. I look forward to seeing my former students grow and succeed. I also cannot wait for my current students and me to embark on an exciting and successful journey of our own.
- Ms. Araf, Head 3rd Grade Teacher, Storefront Academy Harlem
I joined Storefront Academy because I believe it has a vision for it's students. The vision is to have each student feel a part of something beyond their family and friends and the norm of conventional learning. I believe Storefront Academy has a goal that enables both teachers and students to become greater citizens of the world of today and I cannot wait to see what is in store for us!
- Miche'Le Jacks, Movement and Wellness Instructor, Storefront Academy South Bronx
My time as a teacher at Storefront Academy have been a blessing. As a first year teacher, I feel welcomed and a part of a wonderful school community. I chose Storefront Academy because I want to be part of the movement that closes achievement and opportunity gaps. I want to give back to children and fill them with hopes and dreams of one day becoming someone through education.
- Lisandra German, Kindergarten Co-Teacher, Storefront Academy South Bronx
Working in a supportive community assures a productive and successful environment. Since I started at Storefront Academy, I have always felt supported by fellow teachers and colleagues. Not only do they support me with best teaching practices, but with smiles and hugs on those days you really need it! I'm inspired everyday by my hardworking students, and I look forward to teaching the same young minds this year in fourth grade, that I started with in kindergarten.
- Ms. Hanson Head 4th Grade Teacher, Storefront Academy Harlem
Our longtime coporate partners Morgan Stanley were on our Harlem campus to help students celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Students got a mini-lesson on the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, and then created masks of their own to celebrate. Click here to check out pictures from the celebration.
On Wednesday, Brigitte Terrien Ayrault, the wife of France's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Anne-Claire Legendre, Consulate General of France, visited our Harlem campus. After meeting with the school's leadership, they met with our fourth grade class and participated in a question and answer session.
Every spring, some of our youngest learners plant vegetables in the edible garden behind the school’s original building, and it is always a treat to see how much the vegetables have grown after we return from summer break. Our pre-kindergarten class took a trip to the garden and boy were they in for a treat! There were 3 different kinds of tomatoes, eggplant, kale, squash, beans, pumpkin, zucchini, and red peppers. We can't wait for these vegetables to be used in our next meal!
This school year, we are excited to launch a pre-college prep program for 6th to 8th grade students, helping our students become even stronger candidates for selective high schools and colleges in the future. The program incorporates several specific initiatives that directly correlate to college readiness, and focuses on getting this information to our students and alumni early to better ensure that they are able to strongly compete with their peers nationwide.
The program includes our existing young men’s and young women’s mentoring programs, but also provides dedicated class time for high school applications; executive functioning and life skills classes, where students will learn critical soft skills and professional tools, and increased and targeted alumni outreach.