Welcome to The Harlem Link ink, dispatches from our small charter school in Central Harlem.
Founded in 2005, Harlem Link is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, public school. Students are admitted by lottery, we collaborate with the New York City Department of Education on a number of issues and policies, and the demographics of our student population closely resemble the district public schools in our neighborhood.
We'll be sending this newsletter bimonthly to inform the wider community and our supporters about some of the unique and wonderful things happening at our school. Please pass it along to those who might be interested - the more our scholar-citizens grow, the more they love an audience!
|Click, Clack, Do: Scholars Visit Lewins|
On Halloween this year, Harlem Link's first graders had more to concentrate on than the usual assortment of candies, witches, ballerinas and superheroes. That's because they were busy taking a literacy-related field trip, and interacting with real superheroes: acclaimed children's book author and illustrators Betsy and Ted Lewin at the Society of Illustrator's annual "The Original Art" exhibit. The Lewins, co-authors of first grade favorite and Caldecott Honor Book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
, conducted a writing and illustrating workshop with the first graders in the Society's gallery, surrounded by 2008's juried collection of highest quality original art from children's literature.
The children had a chance to create their own children's books, in a sterling example of Harlem Link's ongoing Fieldwork project. In an example of emerging literacy that is sure to please the Lewins,
Mohammed Keita, pictured at left working on his tiger illustration, remarked, "I liked the trip because I got to color pictures." Fieldwork, originally conceived as a weeklong immersion in curriculum-related, outside-of-school work with a partner community institution, has evolved over the years in order to be more directly relevant and accessible for students. Ongoing partnerships are not always possible, and this broader definition of Fieldwork allows one-time events such as this collaboration with the Lewins to enrich children's work. Past Fieldwork experiences have included artists-in-residence through the Children's Art Carnival and Studio Museum in Harlem and trips to parks such as the Meadowlands Environment Center.
Finally, for the second time the Society has donated to Harlem Link students the hundreds of hardcover books submitted to the competitive show along with the original artwork. As in years past, Harlem Link staff will hand-pick books among the donations for each of our kindergarten and first grade students and send them off for the winter recess with a brand-new, high quality picture book. Stay tuned for more examples of engaging student Fieldwork opportunities!
|Fourth Annual Winter Festival|
The winter holidays bring families together to break bread and celebrate the joys of our communal lives. At Harlem Link, the annual Winter Festival has become a powerful occasion for all of our families to come together and celebrate our children's work. Even with an enrollment of only 210 students last year, our 400-seat Upper School auditorium could barely hold the standing-room only crowd of family members that came to the 2007 Winter Festival. Surely the temptation of homemade macaroni and cheese, arroz con pollo, banana pudding and other delicacies had something to do with the overflow attendance, and will again this year, but there was no doubt the infectious enthusiasm of the student performers has been the highlight of the event year after year.
This year's Winter Festival, again celebrating winter holiday traditions around the world, will take place on Monday, December 22nd at 6:00 pm at our Upper School auditorium. This year and last year, events like the Winter Festival, as well as the spring events such as the Spring Bling Dance and our annual Spelling Bee and Respect For Motherhood Essay Contest, are particularly important in our school community because they provide an occasion for students and families from both of our sites to join together. More than 10 families have children that attend both our Upper School (grades 2-4) and Lower School (grades K-1), and continue to juggle the two sites in order to have access to Harlem Link's academic program. We look forward to the day, perhaps in the near future, when we will be united, K-5, in one site. But for now, we rely on events like the exciting Winter Festival to truly, as our mission says, "join together."
|Who We Are|
Board, Parent Leadership & Staff
Board of Trustees
Jonathan Barrett, Chair
Bernard R. Adams, Esq., Treasurer
David W. Brown, Esq., Secretary
Rachel K. Field
Karen C. Hyland
John Reddick (nonvoting)
Kesha M. Young
Co-Directors (ex officio)
Community Outreach Group Officers
Shatima Baker, President
Lawanda Joyner-Tamimu, Vice President
Shakira Carter, Treasurer
Shamika Hollington, Secretary
Margaret Ryan, Co-Director for Instruction
Steven Evangelista, Co-Director for Operations
Julianne Ross, Lower School Director
Lyra Alicea, Development Director
Katie Carroll, Dean of Culture
Garner Lee Green, Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator
Ruby McDavis, Business Manager
Michael Rosenblith, Student Support Coordinator
Christina Brown, Kindergarten
Wendy Carew, Kindergarten
Michal Kafko, Kindergarten
Makiko Matsumoto, Kindergarten
Stephanie da Costa, First Grade
Tonia Douglas, First Grade
Carol Marchena, First Grade
Jessica Risley, First Grade
Kate Olsen, Second Grade
Susanne Park, Second Grade
Yojairy Sands, Second Grade
Tami Vuong, Second Grade
Michael Cassaro, Third Grade
Elah Lazin, Third Grade
Michelle LoMonte, Third Grade
Antonia Tracy, Third Grade
Noah Green, Fourth Grade
Michael Klein, Fourth Grade
Andrea Roscoe, Fourth Grade
Janine Blunt, Theatre Arts
Tyson Gregg, Science
Jennifer Holliman, Science
Student Support Team
Robin Barnes, Academic Intervention Serivces Teacher
Sweta Kapadia, Academic Intervention Services Teacher
Christine Murray, Academic Intervention Services Teacher
Alana Shamah, Social Worker
Summer Sherida, Social Worker
Erica Adams, Associate Dean
Regla Mora, Associate Dean
John Reddick, Associate Dean
Veronica Robertson, Associate Dean
Troy Wheeler, Associate Dean
Nicole Moultrie, Secretary
John Wyeth, Operations Assistant
I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit about our school. On behalf of our students and staff, have a safe, restful and joyous holiday season!
Harlem Link Charter School
|Director's Blog: Anger, Crisis and Second Step|
We've all heard just about as much as we can handle regarding the global financial services and credit crisis. But after ten years working in New York City public schools, I can tell you about another crisis that has been afflicting us for quite a while: anger. Recent neurological research reveals what common sense already told us - that anger prevents learning by activating those parts of the brain that shut down learning and activate the fight or flight response. Those who have not spent much time in our public schools may not understand the seriousness of this issue. I'm not talking about routine anger at perceived or real mistreatment or injustice that we all feel from time to time. Let me say it clearly: across our city, in this most challenging profession, teachers who lack support and children who lack the tools to cope with life's frustrations reinforce each other's anger on a daily basis, anger that is of a different order of magnitude than that experienced in other professions and settings. "Do what you're told!" "I will not!" This argument is not just for bedtime anymore.
At Harlem Link, we take a preventive approach to this problem. In fact, our school was founded on the notion that all children deserve access to a safe environment where their faculties of scholarship and citizenship could develop. Each year our supports for teachers have improved to foster this calm and productive environment. According to Katie Carroll, Dean of Culture, "Everyone gets angry and upset, and dealing with these feelings can be very challenging for children and adults. Harlem Link is taking an active role in managing anger." Those supports include regular meetings with the Dean, who observes all classrooms and talks through issues and behaviors before they grow into problems.
For children, this year our Student Support Team, which includes two Licensed Master Social Workers for our 270 students, began rolling out the research-based Second Step program. According to the Committee for Children's literature, Second Step "teaches children impulse control, problem solving, and emotion management to help them succeed in school and in life." Rather than have our Social Workers wait for a child to act out or present a challenging behavior, they are working directly in classrooms with every classroom teacher to roll out the program. Next year, the "second step" of Second Step will feature teachers providing the instruction, and Social Workers stepping back to play a supporting role.
As in everything we do, working with families is a key ingredient to success in this arena. When parents know that we enter a conversation with a constructive, solution-oriented approach that seeks common ground between their values and those espoused by the school, trust is built and solutions follow. Through our sensitive partnerships with parents and purposeful, individualized plans, we have seen innumerable children at our school who would be otherwise at risk of missing hours of instructional time and receiving a variety of inappropriate labels, learn to control their feelings and, ultimately, their actions. Second Step also has a home-school component built-in to the program, including activities to try at home as well as language to use for problem solving and anger management. We also have family nights planned to assist families in instituting Second Step techniques at home.
Government & Corporate Supporters
Harlem Link is thankful to Jordan Fundamentals for underwriting a portion of our highly successful Mathematics professional development initiative. We are also thankful to the United States Forest Service's More Kids in the Woods grant, which has enabled several exciting science Fieldwork excursions in a partnership we expect to "grow" in the future!
These are only two among our many supporters who have made our school the success story that it is.
|Support Our Cause|
You can join our list of supporters. As a charter school, we are our own, single-school public school district. Because of the charter funding formula, we depend on private donations to supplement our state tuition allocation, and in the coming years anticipate raising as much as 25% of our budget in our Annual Fund. Tax-deductible donations can be made to our fund by clicking here
|Title Art Credit|
Fourth grader Mark Griffith is making a splash at Harlem Link. He designed the title art for this newsletter.