[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.
In keeping with the holiday tradition, the Storefront Academy Harlem Choir performed at French-American Aid for Children's Annual Holiday Cocktail on Dec. 3 at the French Consulate.
Ms. Lindsey conducts Storefront Academy Harlem singers.
Under the direction of music teacher Ms. Lindsey St. Onge, the students displayed their vocal abilities by singing a Scottish folk song, an African gospel song, and a classical choral piece. Students have been working on singing in different styles and genres of music, from classical to contemporary.
The French-American Aid for Children is a long-time supporter of Storefront Academy Harlem. Throughout the years they've funded summer camps and language programs, and currently give to support teacher's assistants in the classroom. The Storefront is one of only seven beneficiaries from FAAFC, and all-volunteer, non-profit organization. FAAFC is dedicated to assisting programs that benefit at-risk children, helping them heal, regain hope and confidence, and get a fresh start in life.
To watch a short video of the students' performance at the Holiday Cocktail, click here.
Storefront Academy has implemented innovative math curriculum, Singapore Math, for kindergarten through 5th grade students. Students who have been taught this approach to math are said to score among the best in the world, and a number of high performing schools along with several school districts across the U.S. have adopted the program.
Singapore Math is a revolutionary approach to teaching math concepts, using a three-step learning process. The first step is concrete, where the students engage in learning experiences using objects like dice, paper clips, or even their fingers. This is followed by the pictorial step, where students draw representations of math concepts. The final step is abstract, where students solve problems using numbers and symbols.
Storefront Academy Harlem Principal Alexis Thomason said the decision to implement Singapore math into the curriculum was a strategic one. “We chose Singapore math to help our students grow in numeracy,” said Thomason. “This is one of the best curricula to help our students deeply understand the way numbers work.”
Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, will be the featured guest at Storefront Academy Harlem’s Annual Harlem Luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at Red Rooster Harlem.
Golden began her career at the Studio Museum in 1987 before joining the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1988. She returned to the Studio Museum in 2000 as Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs, and was named Director and Chief Curator in 2005. Golden has organized many notable exhibitions including Chris Ofili: Afro Muses 1995–2005, Black Romantic, and Freestyle.
She serves as a member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a position she was appointed to by President Obama in 2010, and in 2015 joined the Barack Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors. She also serves as the 2015 –16 Chair of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group. Golden was named a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute in 2008. She is an active lecturer and panelist speaking about contemporary art and culture at national and international institutions, including TED and TEDx conferences.
Golden holds a B.A. in Art History and African-American Studies from Smith College and honorary doctorates from the City College of New York (2009), San Francisco Art Institute (2008), Smith College (2004), Moore College of Art and Design (2003), and was awarded a Barnard Medal of Distinction from Barnard College in 2010. Born in St. Albans, Queens, Golden currently resides in Harlem.
To purchase tickets/tables and for more information, please visit www.storefrontacademy.org/luncheon.
Congressman Charles B. Rangel, United States Representative of the 13th Congressional District, visited Storefront Academy Harlem, the innovative tuition-free private school founded by the late poet Ned O’Gorman in 1966 as The Children’s Storefront, on Monday Sept. 21
The congressman met with the school’s leadership, where he commended the school for its long-standing commitment to educating students in Harlem.
“[Storefront Academy Harlem] came in this community, saw a situation, put resources together and look what has been done,” he said. “It’s remarkable. [Schools like this] are a grain of sand on the beach but it’s a spectacular showcase to display what these little kids, taken by lottery, can do when given a chance.”
Rangel also participated in a town hall-style meeting with 20 students from grades one through six.
“There are thousands of kids in Harlem that are very bright, but they have not been put in a situation that you have where we have expert jewel-breakers and diamond-shiners that allows all of you to sparkle far beyond expectations in this community at your ages,” Rangel told the students.
Rangel recalled being a child and not being exposed to different experiences and being unprepared when he joined the army.
“I am so happy that your parents got a chance to allow you to be exposed to this,” he said. “It just proves that if you have experts to realize that you don’t have to be the brightest person in the world, but if somebody would just take the time to care about you, to love you and to want to make you a sparking diamond.”
Rangel’s visit comes as Storefront Academy celebrates its 50th anniversary as a cornerstone in Harlem, where Rangel was born and raised. For fifty years, Storefront Academy Harlem has rewritten the rules of urban education for students of all learning abilities. A tuition-free private school serving prekindergarten through eighth grade students, Storefront Academy Harlem was founded long before today’s charter schools, and its proven academic model focuses on cultivating intellect and character in equal measure. Storefront Academy creates powerful learners and well-rounded students who persevere in the face of challenges and succeed despite the odds.
Executive Director Elisa Istueta ceremoniously cuts the ribbon for the Storefront Academy South Bronx, with Harlem Trustee Chair Ray A. Cameron, South Bronx Principal Lisette Nieves and South Bronx Trustee Chair Jonathan Stearns.
On Tuesday, September 8, Storefront Academy celebrated the grand opening of its campus in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew dozens of students, staff members, supporters, friends, and elected, civic and community officials to the new site at 416 Willis Ave.
“For 50 years, Storefront Academy has empowered students in Harlem by fostering a safe and supportive learning environment that nourishes the whole child, stimulates critical thinking and encourages individualized growth,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated in a letter issued in response to the new school’s opening. “Today, it embarks on a new chapter by opening a sister school in the South Bronx, which will be guided by the same founding principles. Its expansion and longevity are marks of its success, and I commend the role it has played and will continue to play in many New Yorkers’ lives.”
New York State Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and presented Storefront Academy with a New York State Citation, recognizing Storefront Academy for its contribution to the South Bronx.
Storefront Academy South Bronx opened Wednesday, Sept. 9, with 100 students in kindergarten and first grade. The school will add a grade each year for five years and serve 288 students from kindergarten through grade five, and expects to extend to eighth grade, replicating the Storefront Academy Harlem model. Founded in 1966 as The Children’s Storefront, Storefront Academy Harlem is a tuition-free, lottery-based private school, the only school of its kind in New York State. Like Storefront Academy Harlem, Storefront Academy South Bronx is tuition-free and admits students by lottery, and offers a full academic program along with extended day and summer programming for struggling learners.
“In all ways, this is a true replication of a proven model we created 50 years ago in Harlem,” Elisa Istueta, Executive Director at Storefront Academy said. “What I’ve realized in my time as Storefront Academy’s Executive Director, and what all of our faculty members and families come to know, is that we do far more than provide a quality education. We provide comprehensive and individualized social and emotional supports in addition to targeted academic support. This approach creates smart kids, but, even more importantly, well-rounded individuals who are able to leave our campus and succeed in the world.”
On Tuesday, September 8, Storefront Academy South Bronx, a public charter school, will celebrate its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the school's campus at 416 Willis Avenue in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. The celebration starts at 8 a.m.
This highly anticipated replication and school opening will bring together more than 100 community members, Bronx leaders, politicians, supporters and friends.
"Storefront Academy has been a cornerstone of the Harlem community for 50 years and we are excited to replicate the success of our proven whole child model in the South Bronx." said Elisa Istueta, Executive Director. "With our rigorous academics coupled with our commitment to strategic nurturing, Storefront Academy South Bronx will develop confident, motivated and joyful children who have an enthusiasm for learning and give their best even when faced with adversity."
Storefront Academy South Bronx will open with 100 students in kindergarten and first grade, with plans to add a grade each year, serving 288 students from kindergarten through grade five in its fifth year, with hopes to extend to eighth grade, replicating the Storefront Academy Harlem model. Storefront Academy Harlem was founded in 1966, and is a tuition-free, lottery-based private school, the only school of its kind in New York State. Like its sister school, Storefront Academy South Bronx will offer a full academic program from 8:15 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. each day, with extended day and summer programming offered for struggling learners.
"With highly motivated and enthusiastic teachers and support staff, Storefront Academy South Bronx offers parents access to quality education for their children," said Jonathan C. Stearns, Storefront Academy South Bronx Board Chair and Storefront Academy Harlem trustee. "Our strong belief in a rigorous approach to academics, and strong social and emotional supports provides each student with a holistic experience that fosters academic, personal and social development. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for Storefront Academy South Bronx marks the launch of a new era of education in the South Bronx."
With the unfaltering support of its teachers, administrators, and Storefront Academy leadership, Storefront Academy South Bronx is excited to prepare its students holistically to become critical thinkers, high-achieving students and well-rounded individuals. We are committed to maintaining and enhancing our school as an institution of excellence where the development of the whole child is of paramount importance, through an academically rigorous program and comprehensive social and emotional supports. Through all this, we fully develop students in all areas -- physical, moral, cultural, and intellectual -- in fulfillment of our motto: Expand the Possible. Own the Future.
On July 23, 2015, Storefront Academy Harlem students from the summer program were treated to a fantastic field trip to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ. Joined by volunteers from our partners at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, students watched the 3D movie "Walking With Dinosaurs: Preshitoric Planet," then explored the center's exhibitions.
Storefront Academy Harlem students with volunteers from Orrick at the Liberty Science Center.
Students especially enjoyed the Touch Tunnel, where they had to navigate a pitch-black passageway using only their sense of touch. They also enjoyed the ourdoor activities like the Wildlife Challenge. In it, students pretended to be a wild animals crawling, climbing and clawing their way through an urban jungle maze. They had the opportunity to climb the fossil studded Rock Climbing Wall, make a 6-foot soap bubble and try not to pop it, and create a masterpiece at the digital Picasso station, among other wonderful experiences the science center offers.
Special thanks to Orrick, who not only sent enthusiastic volunteers to chaperone the trip, but who also generously sponsored the day.
For more photos from the field trip, visit the photo album on Facebook.
One of the traditions at Storefront Academy Harlem is the whole school photo. To gather all the students and teachers in one place is no small feat, but the photo represents connection to our history and celebrates the end of a fantastic year of learning.
Here's a wonderful picture of our entire student body and faculty from the 2014-15 school year.
Have a great summer!
Storefront alumnus Kai Nedd ('12) recently had her first book, Graciously Flawed, published by Boss Chic Empire Publications. The urban fiction book has garnered great response and has been listed as one of Amazon's best sellers!
"I was inspired to write this book because I realized how much the literary world lacked on the subject of full-figured women," Kai said. "Like the character in my book, I am full-figured and proud, not sad or unaware of my beauty."
Graciously Flawed is a love story about two intelligent teens, rubenesque Kelsey Washington and athlete Calvin Powers. "I wanted to convey the message that opposite attract, and can make a beautiful life for themselves."
Kai is a student at Life Sciences Secondary School. "It's the best kept secret on the East side because of how small it is compared to other high schools, and the activities that take place there."
Kai credits her time at Storefront Academy for a lot of her success. "Storefront was honestly one of the best experiences a child could have," Kai said. "Every teacher dealt with each of the students with care, almost like we were their very own." She also says that because of Storefront Academy, she's more flexible and able to adapt to any setting.
Author Kai Nedd
The reactions to her book have been tremendous. "People are really taking an interest in my writing! The reviews are beautiful, and people are even asking for a part two." Kai is currently working on a sequel titled, Perfect: Flaws and All. She also has plans to attend college (her dream school is Columbia) to major in Psychology and minor in Journalism.
With her many talents, Kai is sure to succeed in college, and we wish her continued good fortune with her writing career!