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Book - 50 Stories, 50 Years: Our Core Values May 12, 2016
[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.] - See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.tKb7MKat.dpuf
[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.] - See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.tKb7MKat.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

- See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

- See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

- See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

- See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

- See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

- See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.] - See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storeront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.] - See more at: http://storefrontacademy.org/news#sthash.D82ItbaA.dpuf

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

 

Values guide all of our lives and all of our actions. Many times, those values are instilled by our families, or self-discovered after trials and tribulations. At Storefront Academy, every student learns the values that we are hold to be most important to a life of happiness and success.  Our students leave, and these values guide their way: concern for others, diligence, respect, honesty, perseverance, responsibility.

When they are on our campus, our teachers and staff hold students to high expectations that direct their actions. When they leave our doors, whether at the end of the school day or at the end of eighth grade, we hope that those values stick with them, and that they learn to guide themselves

The core values push our students to care about their friends and their community. To push themselves to succeed, even when it’s hard, and even when it hurts. To value honesty and integrity above all else. To know, at their core, that they are powerful in their responsibility to themselves and their families.

The Storefront core values empower each student, giving them tools to handle their emotions and to navigate difficult life situations. These simple words make all the difference.

 

Book - 50 Stories, 50 Years: A Brownstone Beginning May 5, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

In 1979, Storefront Academy Harlem had seen its share of challenges in finding a home. The first two storefronts we occupied burned down to the ground, and finances to secure a new space were harder and harder to come by. Then, space in a small townhome building housed single-room occupancy tenants became available.

The Storefront and all of its children moved into the basement of this modest building on 129th Street. Only a few months later, the building went up for sale. A Storefront trustee made a donation that changed the course of our history. Just $20,000 bought the building at 57 East 129th Street.

Building 57, as it is affectionately called, was the site of the launch of Storefront Academy as a school. It was the set of an Oscar award-nominated documentary short. It was the home of our first graduating class. This unassuming place is the cornerstone to a campus that now defines East 129th Street.

 

Book - 50 Stories 50 Years: Our Campus April 28, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

The first dreams of the Storefront took place in one rundown room on 129th Street and Madison Avenue. This dank, broken-down storefront with low ceilings and small rooms was transformed into a safe, comfortable library, available to anyone in the neighborhood. This was our first campus, the place where the first seeds of hope for what Storefront Academy Harlem has become were planted.

In this first space, almost everything was donated, from books and shelves, couches and other furniture, a phonograph and records, even a purple piano. Even though the neighborhood was rough and there were many problems to face, the storefront stayed open for children in the area to nap, to read, to do homework, to learn.

In 1974, there was a fire in the building. The toddling school found a new location 42 E. 129th Street, with new problems. The building, like many in the neighborhood, had been virtually abandoned by the owners, and there were costly repairs that needed to be done for the safety of everyone. After a short time, the school moved into the basement at 57 E. 129th Street. There were problems in this space as well, from heat and hot water issues to disagreements with the landlord. Despite it all, this became our permanent home when, eventually, the Storefront took over the entire building. The rest, as they say, is history.

Our buildings are brownstones, built to be residences. It is fitting that this makes each classroom cozy and warm, providing an atmosphere that fosters the feeling of being more than a school, of being a family and a community. Because, after all, that’s what makes the Storefront special.

From the humble beginning in the ramshackle storefront on Madison, our campus had become three solid buildings on 129th Street, a cornerstone to the Harlem neighborhood and an anchor for the community.

 

 

Book - 50 Stories 50 Years: Victor Catano April 21, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

When 9 year-old Victor Catano first came to the Storefront in the early 80s, the school was just a handful of students in a few rooms at 57 E. 129th Street. His parents immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic, seeking a better life for Victor and his sisters. After they separated when Victor was 4, he moved with his mother to East Harlem. The neighborhood was a terrifying place, infested with drugs and violence, and Victor’s mother rarely let the children out of the tiny apartment. Finding the Storefront was a godsend to her.

Victor Catano (center) and the Storefront Class of 1990

For Victor, the Storefront was somewhere in his neighborhood besides his home that he could feel safe, and he felt like he belonged. He found that the school was more than academics, that there was such care from everyone involved - it seemed like magic. His home life was challenging, but he thrived at the Storefront. His teachers believed in him and motivated him to do his best. They did everything within their power to give Victor the opportunities needed for success.

Victor Catano and his son

Victor was in the second graduating class at the Storefront and went on to attend the prestigious Browning School, then onto Haverford College, and graduate school at Baruch College. His love for the Storefront never left him, and he came back to the Storefront to serve as Director of Operations, and enrolled his only son as a student when he was old enough to join the Storefront family himself.

The Storefront is a much different place from the school Victor attended in our earliest days. But the love and feeling of family hasn’t changed. It’s still that magical place he found when he was so small.

 

Book - 50 Stories 50 Years: Magnolia "Miss Maggie" Jones April 14, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we are compiling stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

At the beginning of every school day, Magnolia Jones rang the school bell on the steps of building 70. When she did, all the students would quickly come from where ever they were congregated. “Good Morning, Miss Maggie,” they’d say as they walked to their first class of the morning.

Miss Maggie, as she was affectionately called by everyone, joined Storefront Academy Harlem in 1990. Her sister Louise worked at the school, and when she decided to move to North Carolina, she knew the best person to replace her was her big sister Maggie. Miss Maggie came to the school for an interview with Ned, and he did not hesitate to hire her. He told her that having her at the school would feel like Louise never left.

Miss Maggie on the steps of building 70

Miss Maggie loved working here. She loved feeling like she was part of a team where everyone really believed in the school’s vision. Even after the work day was over, many teachers would congregate in her office to continue talking into the early evening about classes, students, and ways to improve the school.

Her first week, she was asked to lead a prayer in the weekly assembly. It became a tradition for her to pray at every assembly and school event. No one was ever offended or put off, because her prayers were open hearted, generous and loving, just like her.

Miss Maggie prays at a Storefront event

Parents trusted Miss Maggie. They would tell her as they dropped their children off, “They’re yours, Miss Maggie. You tell them whatever you need them to do, and they’ll do it!” Students sometimes stayed with her while parents worked late, and she took care of them as if they were her own.

Miss Maggie loved the students, and they loved her. She had no children of her own, but she felt like the students here were just like her nieces and nephews. Sometimes students would misbehave in class on purpose, just to be sent to the office to see Miss Maggie. They’d ask for a cookie, and she’d reply that if they went back to class and behaved, they could come back at lunchtime for a treat.

At the end of the school year in 2013, Miss Maggie walked down the stairs of building 70 for the last time, retiring to move down south to be closer to her family. She spent 23 years at The Storefront as the front desk manager and was a warm and caring member of our community, a stern parent, a favorite aunt, a trusted friend.

 

Faculty Focus: Schenelle Henry April 4, 2016

“Children’s play is an opportunity for them to learn,” said Schenelle Henry, Storefront Academy Harlem’s head pre-k teacher. “They play with a purpose.”  

Ms. Schenelle has been passionately teaching pre-kindergarten at Storefront Academy Harlem for four years. Anyone who has ever visited her classroom knows what a joyous and supportive environment she creates for our littlest learners. In collaboration with assistant pre-k teacher Ms. Keren Murumba, they guide their students, setting the foundation for a lifetime of learning. Incorporating play in the educational day is a vital part of our preschool curriculum.

   

SAH pre-k students can choose different learning centers in which to play, including a doctor's office, beauty parlor, and areas with various blocks and games.

“Children are constantly learning through their play,” said Ms. Schenelle. “It's in the way they negotiate who's going to be the mom, dad, and baby. It's making sure their structure has a sturdy base for the blocks to stand on, or in drawing pictures and writing letters to a friend.”

​In pre-k, what they call “work time” is essentially a time for students to play and explore. “Work time” gives pre-k students an opportunity to choose from a variety of learning centers to work and play in.

“I believe when students are empowered with choice it gives them a sense of ownership over the process and/or result of their work.” She explained that although the children may think they're playing in their areas of choice, they are learning how to interact with their environment and appropriately use the materials that are available to them.  

“Every learning center is set-up for optimal play and learning,” Ms. Schenelle explained, “from the classroom layout to the furniture size to the materials, everything is done with intentionality but,” she concludes, “it's the students who bring it all to life.”

This type of learning not only engages the children’s imagination, but also teaches them how to better interact with their peers. “The most important thing I teach my students is to be good to themselves and others,” she said. “This encompasses kindness, compassion, care, concern, and respect.”

 

Book - 50 Stories 50 Years: Our Founder Ned O'Gorman April 4, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we are compiling stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

Storefront Founder Ned O'Gorman with students

Everyone called him Ned. Students, teachers, people in the community. He wasn't a man who stood on formality. He was a free spirited artist, a poet. But most importantly, he was a teacher.

 

Nothing in Ned’s early life suggested that he would dedicate himself to education. A native New Yorker, Edward Charles O’Gorman was born in 1929 to affluent parents. He spent most of his childhood in Connecticut and Vermont, surrounded by family and friends who kept him safe and allowed his creativity to grow.

 

In his youth, Ned explored many artistic avenues, including acting, and discovered his chief talent was writing. Ned graduated from St. Michael’s University, and received a Master’s Degree from Columbia University. His poetry was well received, earning him two Guggenheim Fellowships in 1956 and 1962. In 1958, his collection of poems, The Night of the Hammer, was awarded the Lamont Poetry Prize. He was the literary editor of the Catholic magazine Jubilee, and was appointed by the U.S. State Department to be the American studies specialist in Chile, Argentina and Brazil in 1965. Despite all his success, Ned wanted to do more.

 

Ned was drawn to Harlem in 1966 because he knew it was a good place for a poet to be. The neighborhood had so much richness for an artist to draw from: history, music, culture. It also had poverty, violence and despair. The hopeless community was riddled with crime, and many families lived in cramped, crowded apartments. There were children in Harlem that didn’t have the advantages that Ned was given - children who were being forgotten about and neglected.

 

He discovered a storefront on Madison Avenue off 129th Street where neighborhood kids congregated. The ceiling had leaking pipes. There were greasy iron gates covering the windows. The wooden planks of the floor were littered with dead roaches.  Ned started by cleaning a window, letting light into the dingy building. He cleaned, brought in couches, chairs, and oriental rugs. He built book shelves, and asked every publisher he knew to donate books to fill them. He welcomed everyone in the neighborhood to the storefront.

Ned with two Storefront students

The space developed into a community library and a safe space for neighborhood children. He named the library after Addie Mae Collins, to commemorate one of the four children killed in the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, AL. Families came to the storefront, and began to trust this newcomer in their neighborhood. Ned spent a lot of time with the children, reading with them, sharing music with them, and showing them a world of possibility outside of Harlem. He was excited and encouraged by the joy he saw in the eyes of a child who was protected from the danger of the neighborhood, and who was free to explore and read and listen. He was excited by the joy of a child who was learning.

 

The space developed into a pre-school for children as young as four months old and as old as the age of four. He called it The Children’s Storefront. Ned referred to the school as a liberation camp, and he was its passionate headmaster.

 

Ned’s students adored him. He would welcome them every morning by telling them, “You are great! You are a miraculous child!” For some, Ned was the first person in their lives to believe in them. In his eyes, they saw love.

 

 

 

In 1967, Ned was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine with an article about his work at the school, and the remarkable children that he served. In those early years, Ned also published three books and several articles about The Storefront and was able to leverage this publicity to raise money to keep the school open. Ned was charming, and superb at getting friends and acquaintances to donate money and time to the school.

 

The Children’s Storefront grew and evolved, and Ned remained at the helm. Ned ran the preschool for fifteen years using only a small staff from the neighborhood and volunteers. It went on to become an elementary school. When the Storefront graduated its first class of 8th graders in 1989, there was no one prouder than Ned.

 

Ned was charming and wholehearted. He could also be stubborn and caustic. He saw no need for political correctness. His passion for social justice would sometimes make him so angry that he’d offend the people who could help him most, or even the people he was trying to help. Ned was a revolutionary with no shortage of opinions. His work at the school was incredibly personal.

 

In 1998, after 32 years as the headmaster, Ned left the Storefront. He went on to start The Ricardo O’Gorman Garden and Center for Resources in the Humanities, a preschool, down the street from the Storefront.

 

On February 28, 2014, Ned passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 84. His memorial was held in Harlem and the church was filled with students, staff, faculty, alumni, former students, and families. They spoke, sang and performed, all in Ned’s honor. All came to laugh, tell stories, cry, and pay tribute to this man who had done so much for the community and for so many of them.

 

His passion for Harlem’s children and his belief in their potential has changed hundreds of lives. His legacy as a revolutionary in education cannot be denied.

 

Book - 50 Stories 50 Years: 1988 Oscar-nominated Documentary about The Children's Storefront March 22, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we are compiling stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

A jazz piano plays and there are images of the Harlem neighborhood in the late '80s. The voice of our founder Ned O'Gorman speaks, speculating about some of the more troubled members of the community, and what their life might have been like for them as children. So begins the 1988 Academy Award nominated film for Best Documentary Short, The Children's Storefront.

1989 NY Daily News article about The Children's Storefront Documentary

In 1987, producer and director Karen Goodman and a team of volunteer filmmakers came to the neighborhood and interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and families to make a film about the transformative work being done here. There are scenes in Storefront classrooms, showing students learning about literature, grammar, poetry, math, and biology. Parents tell about how the school has given their children more opportunities than they ever hoped. Teachers share how students overcome remarkable hardships to attend and succeed at our school. The film ends with the triumphant step-up day, where students recite Langston Hughes' I, Too, and sing a jubilant version of "We Are The World."

For many years, The Children's Storefront was known in Harlem and throughout the city as a school that cared for and educated students that no one else believed in. Because of the documentary, shown on PBS, our unique, heartfelt mission and model gained world-wide attention for the first time.

Storefront Academy Harlem named a finalist for the 2016 Brooke W. Mahoney Award for Outstanding Board Leadership February 2, 2016

The Board of Trustees of Storefront Academy Harlem has been named a finalist for the 2016 Brooke W. Mahoney Award for Outstanding Board Leadership.

Since its founding 50 years ago, the driving force behind Storefront Academy has been its dedicated and invested Board of Trustees who has fulfilled an incredible responsibility to keep the foundation of Storefront Academy strong, assuring its financial security and its programmatic excellence for high-needs youth.

The board will be formally recognized at a cocktail reception on March 8, where the winner of the Brooke W. Mahoney Award for Outstanding Board Leadership for 2016 will be announced.

Click here to learn more about the Brooke W. Mahoney Award.

Book - 50 Stories 50 Years: Ned O'Gorman's Book About The Storefront January 8, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy’s 50th Anniversary, we are compiling stories for a book, 50 Stories 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

 

Founder Ned O’Gorman was a poet. When the Storefront was only a few years old and struggling to become a permanent fixture in Harlem, he used his considerable talents to compose a book about this special community. The Storefront; a Community of Children on 129th Street & Madison Avenue was published by Harper and Row publishing in 1970.

In the small volume, Ned shares deeply personal stories about his early experiences in Harlem. He writes about the genesis of the school, and how he transformed a basement space in a brownstone into a library where all children were invited to come and learn about anything they could dream. He brings readers into the world of Harlem, mourning the violence of the neighborhood and sharing his dream of Harlem’s children thriving – so different from how these precious lives were, instead, being discounted. In 1970 and for the rest of his life, Ned believed that every child was precious and full of potential. This book was a testament to those beliefs.  

Ned wrote many books in his career, including award-winning volumes of poetry and political commentary, and another book about the Storefront in 1978, The Children Are Dying. However, it is Ned’s first book that shares his vision for the Storefront, and the great hopes he had for all of the children of Harlem. That vision and belief in the promise of every child continues to shape our mission today.