BtB is proud to introduce two new schools to our literacy programs this year: The Ralph Bunche School (PS 125) in West Harlem and High School for Dual Languages and Asian Studies in Chinatown.
We were first introduced to the Ralph Bunche school through our association with the West Harlem Development Corporation. Director Jo Umans met the school’s principal, Reginald Higgins, at a WHDC event in the spring. As Mr. Higgins explained the challenges of providing his students with engaging literacy activities as well as his passion for project-based learning and search for innovative programs, we knew a partnership was ready to be forged! As a literacy non-profit focused on engagement this is a match well-made.
Even though we love it when we’re in the right place at the right time to make personal connections, it’s also always great when people reach out to us. Dual Language High School’s Assistant Principal, Miriam Uzzan, contacted BtB after seeing Jo Umans featured as NY1’s New Yorker of the Week in the Spring. The school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side has a large proportion of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. It also offers transitional language skills classes for students who have reached an adequate proficiency in English to leave the ESL program, but who would benefit from additional support.
At BtB we know that there’s a difference between survival skills and reading at grade level. The challenge teachers face is how to keep kids engaged in reading and excited about taking additional language classes. We’re already working with teachers on a great list of authors and books including concrete poetry, mythology, social justice and biography that we know will strike a chord with our new students.
Dual Langauge High School will host three Behind the Book programs in 2015-2016 school year and Ralph Bunche will host four. These programs are among the 55 we’ll run throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, resulting in around around 302 individual workshops with more than 1,200 students. We’re looking forward to meeting the students at both schools this fall and spring semester and can’t wait to introduce them to our inspiring authors!