On Tuesday, February 6th, Inwood Academy for Leadership joined hundreds of families in Albany to advocate for our school and celebrate 20 years of positive changes in public education. The New York City Charter School Center and the Northeast Charter Schools Network co-sponsors this annual event and Inwood Academy has participated for 3 consecutive years.
This year we joined families from TEP Charter School in the morning to travel to Albany together. Every politician in Albany works for us and this was the perfect opportunity to exercise our civic duty and fight for all charter schools. Ms. Nilma (Thay) Baez, parent of a student at Inwood Academy said, “There are 47,800 students on charter school waitlists and families in our community should be given the privilege to choose what school they want to send their children to.” Other parents from our group outlined Governor Cuomo’s executive budget proposals and shared the personal impact their child’s school has had in their lives with our local elected officials – Senator Marisol Alcantara and Assemblywoman Carmen N. De La Rosa. We all agreed that the cap should be eliminated because charter schools work for the students we serve in Washington Heights and Inwood, and they work for about 114,000 students in New York City.
Equity for all schools means that if charters are providing a great education for its students and their families then they should receive the same amount of funding as any traditional public school.
Charter schools are public schools and equal funding could help with family programming, books, school trips, extracurricular activities, and more. Charter schools like Inwood Academy who do not share space with a DOE school, receive even less funding, as we are not reimbursed for all of our building expenses.
“Unity is something that not only the Inwood community should have, but the whole world” said Inwood Academy senior Meliza Cepeda. Over the summer, community artist Reynaldo Garcia Pantaleón worked with students from Inwood Academy, Inwood Community Services, Inc. summer campers at IS 52, and students from Gregorio Luperon High School for Math and Science to create the Unity in Progress mural on IS 52’s exterior wall. On August 23rd our community celebrated the mural’s unveiling.
The idea for the mural was conceived, designed, and named earlier in the summer by Meliza herself; she was inspired by wanting a more just and united world. The project beautified the exterior of IS 52, engaged students from three schools in societal transformation, and gave expression to perspectives that are needed in our public dialogue.
The students who worked on the project are leaders in their community. It was great to see how everyone worked together, built relationships, and created memories. Our students can walk past the mural with friends and family and say, “I helped make that mural.”
The Unity in Progress mural project was made possible in part thanks to a partnership with Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) and the Neighborhood 360˚ Program, which was created by the NYC Department of Small Business Services. NoMAA was awarded a grant to work on three murals in the Inwood community and this first mural was coordinated by Inwood Academy and Inwood Community Services, Inc.
More than 300 members of our Inwood Academy community—adults, children, and teens—enjoyed the beautiful weather on October 10, the day we held a Walk Against Bullying.
This walk was the focus of our first annual Family Day of Service event and not only did our staff and families participate in the walk through Inwood Hill Park but they were asked to stand up to bullying as well. Children from schools in our community get bullied every day— 1 in 4 children get bullied each year. If we look at our middle school and high school as a representation of that data, it would be 200 out of 800 students. This is why we wanted our first Family Day of Service to focus on a Walk Against Bullying.
We want our community to come together to become leaders and demand respect and kindness for everyone — especially for our children. On October 10 they did just that.
I want to thank everyone who participated, especially our students and their families. It was a day for them to exhibit leadership in their own community. I want to also express my appreciation for all who helped in the planning, spreading the word, ordering supplies, creating the really fun Instagram prop frame, making the special #IALWalksAgainstBullying Snapchat filter, creating the anti-bullying buttons, speaking at the event, and wearing orange—the color adopted for the National Bullying Prevention Month. All of that – and much more made all the difference in the success of the event and in the lives of our students.
Check out our photo gallery: