Bronx Education Summit

Today’s guest Blogger is Lindsay Lineberry, Corps Members on the Alcoa Team serving at PS 48 in the South Bronx.

“In the future, when we look at just how much education has improved in the Bronx, when we see that our schools have changed for the better, we will be able to look at this summit as the turning point. This is a historic moment, and all of you will play an important role in the future of Bronx education.” Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott at first annual Bronx Education Summit, which packed Lehman’s performing arts center. Photo Credit NY Daily News

On October 15, Dr. Diane Ravitch’s passionately delivered her keynote speech at The Bronx Education Summit. Dr. Ravitch, New York University Professor and author of over a dozen books on education and school reform, solicited strong emotion from the crowd of parents and educators present; more than once, spirited cheers and applause erupted throughout the audience. Several other speakers, including Chancellor Dennis Walcott, shared hopeful words as well.

“More students are graduating New York City schools, but most of them are not prepared for college or for the modern workplace” Dr. Diane Ravitch

MS 424 Corps Member Latea O'kane with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Hours earlier, City Year arrived at the Lehman Music Building; some corps members, particularly those traveling from Brooklyn, had been fired up since 3:45 that morning and were feeling ready for a powerful day of service. The purpose of the summit was to create an opportunity for parents, students and educators to come together to discuss ideas about improving education and strategies for school reform. City Year’s role was a supportive one; specifically, corps members were responsible for greeting attendees as they arrived, guiding them through registration, and preparing spaces for the workshops and breakout sessions.

Sessions covered topics including Special Education, English Language Learners, College and Career Awareness, and Health. Jessica Touissant, who serves at PS 48 in South Bronx, participated in the Early Childhood Education workshop. The presentation emphasized exposing children to real-life situations (i.e, a trip to the grocery store) and making it an educational experience. Jessica says that what she took away from the session was that “Every interaction with a child is an opportunity to teach them something.”

It is important for City Year to take part in events like this. We were able to not only support the days logistics but also take advantage of attending several of the sessions, speak to the vendors at the education fair, build relationships with a variety of colleges and college-readiness programs, and make connections with child advocacy groups.  As always, City Year also provided red bomber-clad young adult at the summit that made sure the ambiance was one of spirit, discipline, purpose and pride. (yeah, pride)