Trust Convenes Stakeholders to Learn More About First All-Girls School in Newark
The Newark Trust for Education brought together officials from Newark Public Schools, members of the philanthropic community and community activists to learn more about the opening of the city's first public school for girls only.
The college-prep school, which would serve girls in grades six through 12, would be overseen by the district in conjunction with the Young Women's Leadership Network, which runs similar schools in East Harlem, Brooklyn, two in Queens and is opening its fifth New York City school this fall in the Bronx.
Anne Tisch, founder and president of the Young Women's Leadership Network, told the more than three dozen stakeholders gathered at the Newark Historical Society July 18 that it was important for the community to embrace the idea of the school, which is slated to open in the fall of 2013 with 80 students in the sixth grade.
"We know the girls in Newark need a great education," Tisch said.
Tisch said the school is looking to hire a principal, preferably one who has experience working in Newark Public Schools. The school is also looking to form partnerships with community organizations, especially those that have done work with young women in the city, like the Sadie Nash Leadership Project.
She said the school is also looking for funders who can support it during its planning year as well as sustain the after school, extended school and summer programs as well as other extracurricular activities that are the hallmark of its success.
Greg Taylor, the president and CEO of the Foundation for Newark's Future, told Tisch the school can count on the support of the Foundation.
Anne Adler, the executive director of the Young Women's Leadership Network, said the East Harlem school has a successful track record since its founding in 1996. The school has a 97 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent college acceptance rate, with most of the students attending four-year colleges.
Since the first class graduated in 2001, students have been awarded $57 million in financial aid, an average of $12,000 per student, not including loans. A study done for the school found that its alumni graduate four-year colleges at triple the rate of a similar population of students.
In addition to a rigorous, college-prep academic program, the school offers a variety of events and activities designed to expand their students' outlook, including job shadowing, college visits, health lectures, summer internships and hands on science opportunities.
Alumni Autumn Bush and Jahleese Ladson said the school gave them opportunities that they would not have had. Bush, who was a ward of the state in foster care, graduated from Skidmore College in 2007 and plans to attend graduate school in the fall. Ladson graduated from Smith College in 2010.
"We are living proof that the school works," Bush said.
This will be the first public school for girls in Newark, but not the first single-sex school. This fall, Eagle Academy for Young Men is scheduled to open for 160 sixth and seventh grade boys. The Young Women's Leadership School was also slated to open in the fall of 2012, but Tisch said she requested an additional planning year because the school wasn't ready to open.
"We were shooting for 2012, but the pieces did not fall into place," Tisch said. "Rather than be hasty, we wanted to do things right."
In response to questions from community members, Tisch said the school would be open to girls of all academic abilities, including students with special needs and those enrolled in English as a Second Language. The school is not a magnet school with selective admissions, she said. The admission process will be conducted by the district.
"Our families have to choose to be in this school," Adler said. "We are looking for motivated kids or motivated mothers, grandmothers or guardians."
Tisch said the Young Women's Leadership Network has a good relationship with New York City's public schools and expects the same with Newark Public Schools.
"We don't have to reinvent the wheel, we know what works," Tisch said.