Civic Leaders at Inwood Academy

One of our goals at Inwood Academy is to ensure our high school graduates are young men and women of good character, with outstanding leadership ability.

Sometimes my job is easy because I believe you can be a natural leader and my tenth grade student Leydiann is one such student. Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer thinks so too. Last week, Ms. Brewer announced the members of her new Council of Young Leaders of Manhattan and Leydiann was appointed to serve as a member, one of fifty teenagers. Her term started last week and runs through June 30, 2017.

Serving on the Council of Young Leaders of Manhattan will provide Leydiann with a unique opportunity to address issues facing our community and will help her to develop skills that will serve her throughout her life. We are fortunate to have Leydiann represent our community. It’s young voices and their civic engagement on subjects from urban planning to police-community relations that will make a positive difference in our neighborhood and throughout the borough of Manhattan.

What does a natural leader look like to me? It’s someone who is concerned about making a difference, pays attention to what’s around her, and understands that she has to be proactive in order to make change. That’s Leydiann. While she displays all of our school’s character traits—honesty, integrity, responsibility, caring, and restraint—it’s how she cares for others that stands out most to me. She’s a great listener and is very aware of her reaction and response to situations.

Each day, staff recognize the positive impact that a student or teacher is making and we formally recognize achievements when we celebrate our Students of the Month. However, I chose to recognize Leydiann here, on this blog, and to thank her for all she does in our school community, for being the founding President of Inwood Academy’s High School Student Council, and to how she humbly stands out and leads by example.

Let’s all congratulate Leydiann on her appointment to the Council of Young Leaders of Manhattan.

A Silent Debate

While a silent debate might sound like an oxymoron it was a tool that I used to encourage my students to come up with ways to reduce waste in their daily lives. From thoughts on unplugging unused electronics, to changing construction materials, the sixth graders made some very viable suggestions to reduce energy costs.

When the team from Google Classroom came to visit Inwood Academy on April 13th, sixth grade scientists were able to show off their skills using Google Classroom, an online forum that helps teachers develop a collaborative work environment in the classroom. My class was using the “question” function to have an online, silent debate about recycling and reducing costs in their homes. This feature in Google Classroom provides a forum for students to step up and have a voice. Even students who do not traditionally participate in discussions are active in the online debate. It’s wonderful to see what everyone has to say with the risk of embarrassment minimized.

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After observing the class’s silent debate, the team from Google asked a number of questions about how to improve their products and offered suggestions about ways their current products could be utilized in the classroom more effectively. It’s great to get the feedback from the developers and have a team from a company the size of Google stop in and care about our students and how they are learning.

Now let’s celebrate Earth Day every day.

Scholarship, Leadership, Service, Citizenship and Character

Parents, families, students, faculty, administration and friends of Inwood Academy celebrated scholars at the 2016 National Junior Honor Society Induction Ceremony.

The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) recognizes the highest achieving students. More than just an honor roll, NJHS welcomes students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of Scholarship, Leadership, Service, Citizenship and Character.

Thirty-four Inwood Academy scholars were inducted into the NJHS on Wednesday evening. One student, Alysha Urena, who has been consistently on the honor roll since her first year at Inwood Academy, spoke last night; here’s an excerpt:

“Middle School isn’t easy. There happens to be a lot of distractions! To continuously push yourselves academically and stick with challenges in order to achieve scholarship is quite a feat. You didn’t get here because you’re smarter than everyone else. You’re here because you determined to be here. Josely Jimenez asked me almost every day if her average was where it needed to be to become a NJHS member- even when she had to stay an extra week in the DR! She emailed me consistently to get to get her assignments and ask about her grade point average.

Another quality you demonstrate is leadership. Other students follow you not because of your magnetic personalities, but because of the choices you make. Your example in the classroom, cafeteria, hallways and neighborhood is noticed by others. So, leadership that is compelling results from your character, another hallmark of a NJHS member. Your character has led you to understand that right is right, even if everyone else seems to disregard it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone else seems to think it’s okay. A person of character does not take a poll to determine the right actions.

Finally, you are now becoming members of NJHS because your character and leadership cause you to serve others. You are citizens of this neighborhood, city and country who look out for the needs of others. Now you have each other. When you come back from break, your NJHS 2016 T-shirts will be ready for you to wear. Wear them often, not out of pride, but because of what you signal to others: An Inwood Academy student who leads through serving others, by encouraging them to develop the same character to choose the right path and to persevere through academic and personal struggles.”

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Congratulations to all of our NJHS members and their families.

To view more photographs from the ceremony, see our 2016 National Junior Honor Society photo album.

Young Scientists

It’s amazing when young scientists come together!

The Inwood Academy Middle School science fair became far more than was expected. The sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students that were featured in the 2016 Science Fair represented an elite group of young scientists at the school. As the projects came in, the science teachers couldn’t help but recognize the level of effort and research that our students put in this year. The competition, held in the middle school gym on March 23rd, showcased 45 young scientists from across the three grades. With projects that touched on genetics, plant growth, the Stroop Effect, dissolving an egg shell, and the effects of friction, our students learned a lot and were thrilled to share all they knew with all those in attendance.

Watch Marlenie describe her project, the effect of additives on eggs.

Visitors and judges were wowed by presentations and discussions with all our students. We even highlighted a fifth grader that completed a project independently even though he wasn’t required to. Science at Inwood Academy has found a way to become very relevant to our students. They have so many questions that our annual science fair allows the students the opportunity to explore and showcase their own interests. The hardest part about the fair was choosing the participants.

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The level of performance this year only raises the expectations for future science fairs at Inwood Academy. Come out next year and be amazed at what you can learn.

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To view more photographs, see the Middle School Science Fair photo album on our school’s Flickr page.

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Our Dream of Becoming Professional Dancers

Fabian and Sebastian are 10th grade students at Inwood Academy. This is their blog post about what they’ve been doing outside of school and a huge honor they recently received. Read on.

Ever since we were young children we have dreamed of going to a famous dance school and training to be professional dancers. We want to tour the world and touch the lives of audiences who might also want to become dancers.

We are so happy to be one step further to reaching our goal. We were accepted to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Attending the ABT program is an amazing opportunity but very pricey. One of the Inwood Academy teachers helped us to set up a fundraising page and now the school has given us the opportunity to write this blog post so you can learn a little bit more about us and help us raise $15,000.  This will cover the tuition for both of us to attend, which is more than our family can afford. We need to decide whether or not we will be able to attend the school by May 1st.

Our interest in dance started when our mom placed us in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater summer camp.  From there we started to take dance classes and began to love the technical dance. At the Harlem School of the Arts we have been trained by amazing dancers from Alvin Ailey, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and more.

During our journey as dancers, we have been granted many important opportunities from amazing schools. We have been guest dancers for well-known dance programs, opened for some of the best companies in New York, and have taken classes with inspirational choreographers. For example, last spring we performed in France with Aubrey Lynch and also at Lincoln Center with the Alvin Ailey Company as part of Ailey Camp. This past summer we took classes in the Joffrey School of Ballet’s summer intensive. This March we were part of the cast of a production of West Side Story produced by Carnegie Hall and the Somewhere Project.

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This ABT program aims to provide dancers with a rich knowledge of classical technique and the ability to adapt to all styles of dance. Some of the classes include ballet, pointe, partnering, men’s class, character, modern technique, variations and Pilates. We will be in level 5 taking classes between 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. and be working not only with ABT faculty, but Alumni students from the past years.

By supporting us you will be helping two Latino twins succeed their dreams as being professional dancers in great companies. As Latinos, we will stand out in the crowd and raise awareness to Latinos in the ballet world. Let’s face it. Have you ever seen a Latino dancer play the part of the king in the ballet Swan Lake or play the prince in Sleeping Beauty?

We only began dancing when we were 13, which is very unusual in the world of professional dance. The hardest and most intimidating part of dance at first was that everyone else had been dancing for much longer and had an advantage in classes because they were more advanced. Our schedule is also difficult because, as a charter school, Inwood Academy’s school day finishes later in the day, but our dance classes go from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. every night. By the time we get home it is about 9:00 p.m. and we have to do homework and study. We travel six days a week and spend about 18 hours a week in classes, apart from the time we spend stretching and rehearsing on our own. We also help with the middle school kids in dance classes on Saturdays.

We would appreciate dearly if you can support us in funding the amount of money needed for this amazing experience at the ABT.

P.S.  Thank you Ms. Laughner for helping us with our fundraiser and granting us the opportunity to tell our story here.