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June 19, 2009

East New York Grade Schoolers Put on Path to Private College

180 Students Learn Where Their Hard Work Can Take Them

More than 180 student in kindergarten through third grade from East New York Prep Charter School, along with the head of the school and their teachers spent the day at St. Francis College on Friday, June 19 learning from professors and college students about what they can achieve if they stay true to the values instilled in them by their principal.

St. Francis College Education Department Chairperson Richard Giaquinto, who organized the visit, told the students he expected to see about 90% of them attending St. Francis College about ten years from now. “We will be working with East New York Prep for years to come, following these students, sending our College students to student-teach there and enriching their program in other ways,” he said. “It will be great to track their development and see the positive impact we can have on these children. “ (Watch the story on SFC TV)

The head of East New York Prep, Sheila Joseph, is a former criminal defense attorney who became an educator after learning about a study that found how much New York City was spending to incarcerate people based on each city block. She says that East New York and Brownsville had 13 so-called Million Dollar Blocks, meaning more than a million dollars and up to 5 million for one block, was spent to incarcerate people from each of those city blocks.

“I wanted to start a school with kids when they were still small so we can start to change the whole concept of million dollar blocks,” Joseph said. “Instead of many years from now our city spending all this money on million dollar incarceration blocks, I’m hopeful we can start spending millions of dollars on scholarship blocks that the students at East New York Prep will start to earn.”

The grade school students attended classes taught by both St. Francis professors as well as students in the Education Department who are training to become teachers. Classes ranged from Biology, where they conducted experiments with strawberries to art classes where they drew pictures of what they wanted to be when they grow up then presented their work to the class. Other students attended a physical education class, where they learned to navigate an obstacle course or learned about information technology where they were taught how to use a smartboard and created artwork on a computer.

Christine Rivera ’07, a recent St. Francis College graduate, has been teaching kindergarten at East New York Prep for two years. “The experience has been wonderful and St. Francis definitely has prepared me for my career,” said Rivera. “When you see the academic growth within the year, you as a teacher are very proud of what you do.”

The visit fits in with the larger mission within the St. Francis College Education Department that focuses attention on high needs schools in the city. This year’s valedictorian, Amanda Krol, is an Education Major who, like all St. Francis Education Majors, student-taught at two such schools this past year.

All the students were given a tour of the St. Francis College facilities, in addition to the classes, which were taught by St. Francis College Professors Irina Ellison (Biology), John McNamara (Physical Education), Sandra Westcott (Information Technology) and Esther Klein (Information Technology) other sections were taught by Special Ed Expert Eileen Leibman (Arts & Crafts), Bother Thomas Grady (Franciscan History and Values), Senior Career Counselor Cheretta Robson (Art) and Assistant Director of Student Activities Ruben Gonzalez (Values).

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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