It’s not easy to say goodbye. This summer we are parting with an old friend: our dear little mini-building on Nagle Avenue.
For the last two years, we’ve been living in two different locations. Our 5th and 6th grades were in our first little space that we called “Nagle” and our 7th and 8th grades in our building we called “Cooper,” because Nagle only fit two grades. On August 1, we have the tremendous opportunity to bring together our 5th through 8th grades into the former St. Jude’s Catholic School located on West 204th Street to create Inwood Middle School. (Did you know Dyckman Park, not far from our new location, is actually called Monsignor Kett Park, named for the former leader of the St. Jude’s parish?) Our soon-to-be 9th graders will remain at the Cooper building to launch the first year of our high school.
As we move to Inwood Middle School, we are excited about the opportunities. It’s a place where our entire middle school (5th – 8th grades) can be in one building, small groups can meet in actual classrooms, and students have access to a cafeteria and a gym. However, we’re sad to leave the literal and figurative closeness of the community that was established at Nagle.
If you’ve been to this building, you know it’s a bright little blue and green building, tucked away behind PS 152, with its entrance facing Ellwood Street. We even gave ourselves our own address when we moved in, calling it the “Ellwood Street Annex” for the purpose of mail delivery. While it was never official, UPS somehow found us. (FedEx and the post office rarely did!)
Our existence at Nagle has been one that has required us to be inventive and creative. The physical space was so tight that we had to like each other or we wouldn’t make it. The teachers lovingly called working there “the struggle.” Why?
- To water our garden we had to hook up a hose to a classroom sink and run it through the window.
- The garden, during warmer months, was our only space to have meetings. During colder months, we met in the hallway or a closet.
- The dean’s/principal’s office was a closet, without a door.
- Whenever we needed a closed-door room to have meetings, we would meet in the kitchen, which meant the teachers couldn’t get their lunches.
- Small groups gathered in the hallway, on the floor or on stools.
- The main office was in the hallway.
- PE teachers held PE in classrooms when it rained, usually running students through “stations.”
- Lunch was eaten in the classrooms
Yet through all of this, we grew to love Nagle because it was the place where students were progressing, where teachers were building relationships with each other and their students, and where character was being built. Space is a luxury in NYC; this is our blessing and our curse. When you ride the train, you know that being close to people is something that you have to do. In the same way, working and learning at Nagle meant that you had to figure out a way to get along. You had to be nice. You had to make learning happen, despite the circumstances. We all became educational MacGyvers, armed with a book and a stool.
As we bid farewell to our little space, we are thankful for the time it gave us to bond and create a strong foundation for our move to a larger space.
Hello, Inwood Middle School. We know we will have to work harder and be more intentional to create the Nagle
atmosphere, but we welcome the opportunity to grow and change with our new surroundings. See you soon!
By Christina Reyes, firstname.lastname@example.org