NEWLY APPOINTED NYC SCHOOL’S CHANCELLOR CARMEN FARIÑA VISITS A COMMUNITY SCHOOL
On January 27, less than a month as New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña visited one of the Department of Education/Children’s Aid Society flagship community schools, the Mirabal Sisters Campus in Washington Heights. She toured the school, and spoke with teachers and students. She also visited the school-based Wellness Center and the Family Room, both integral parts of the CAS community school strategy. Rich Buery, CAS president and CEO, was also part of the visit. Among other issues, Ms. Fariña and Mr. Buery discussed her interest in parent leadership programs.
In the Family Room, a group of Spanish speaking parents was attending a workshop about family roles and rule setting, run by CAS staff. During a brief, lively exchange with them the chancellor stressed the importance of learning the culture and language of this country while preserving, and passing on to their children, their own identity and language. She shared that as a new immigrant to the United States she had faced the challenge of not speaking English well enough, but had never allowed this obstacle to stop her from conquering her goals.
Responding to a spontaneous invitation from the group, Chancellor Fariña agreed to comeback for a deeper conversation with a larger group of parents and caregivers from Washington Heights in the near future.
CUSH (CHURCHES UNITED TO SERVE AND HEAL), BROOKLYN, NY
On January 23, five top leaders of CUSH (Churches United to Serve and Heal), from Brooklyn, New York, visited the National Center for Community Schools to explore the concept of community schools, and discuss next steps and possible technical assistance, with the Center’s senior staff. The group included Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Senior Pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship, and Bishop Eric D. Garnes, Senior Pastor of Tabernacle of Praise Cathedral.
Bishop Findlayter, who initiated this exploratory conversation, serves as the chairman of the board of trustees of the New Hope Academy, a science and technology elementary charter school, located in Brooklyn school district 18. The school opened in 2010 and now has 350 students. The school leadership wants to start addressing the needs of the whole child and is determined to be one of the first 100 community schools Mayor De Blasio opens in New York City, and the conduit for community schools in Brooklyn.
On January 15, Christine Long, senior program officer, and three other senior administrators from Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa, Florida visited the Salomé Ureña Campus, a CAS community school in Washington Heights. The objective of the study visit was to see the school in action and learn about the strategy.
Partnering to help homeless families and hungry people has been the cornerstone of Metropolitan Ministries’ (MM) approach since 1972, when 13 churches, all different denominations, joined to achieve their mission. One of the agency’s major initiatives is MiraclePlace, a housing program that provides comprehensive services for homeless families, including apartments, job training and an elementary school for 75 students on site. MM is doubling the number of families in the program, and is building a larger facility to accommodate additional children. A possible collaboration with The Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHSF) to develop a full-service community school is being explored.
“We were so inspired by the incredible work that you're doing. Through our visit and the materials you provided we will be looking at ways to implement the community schools model in the Tampa area. It is an exciting opportunity to make a lasting impact in the lives of children in a new way!” writes Christine Long on a follow up note.
We thank our dear partner, David Bundy, CHSF’s CEO and president, and one of the community school champions in that state, for advising this inspiring organization to consider community schools as a future strategy, and for thinking of our schools as exemplary.