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Fall 2011, Volume 4, Number 2

CHARACTER matters SPECIAL ISSUE: Opening Celebration of Hyde Leadership Charter School’s New High School Building

Head of School Betsy Olney cuts the ribbon at the Opening Celebration of the new high school building surrounded by (left to right, front row) State Senator Ruben Diaz, Hyde Schools founder Joe Gauld, Executive Director of Hyde Foundation Joanne Goubourn, Grammy award winner Roberta Flack, Director of High School Celia Sosa, board members Wilder Baker and Shara Freeman, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, former COO Cliff van Voorhees, Board Chair Herb Fixler (left to right back row) Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., board members David Steadly, Bob Rosario, Herb Kaplan, and Deborah Dumont.

n October 4th, you could feel the excitement in the air as more than 200 guests came to Hunts Point to celebrate the official unveiling of the new high school building. Given that HydeBronx is the only college preparatory school in Hunts Point—the poorest Congressional district in the nation—and this is the first new high school building built in the community in more than 30 years, there was a lot to celebrate. Before moving into the customdesigned, 31,500-square foot, Hunts Point Avenue building where HydeBronx is the sole occupant, all of our K–11 students shared space in a Bryant Avenue Department of Education building where overcrowding had become a significant issue. Limited to two floors, the lack of space meant that some classes had to be held in hallways behind curtains. While Hyde-Bronx’s


elementary and middle schools remain in the Department of Education shared building, the board of trustees took a road less travelled for a NYC charter school and found a way to build its own high school building on an empty lot around the corner from its elementary and middle school divisions. The Board of Trustees’ goal was to have the new high school building up and running for the start of the 2011–12 school year. Goal proudly achieved! For the Opening Celebration, the presentation room (which also functions as a gym, lunchroom and auditorium), was packed with members of the Bronx community, educators, parents, students and friends of Hyde-Bronx who came to celebrate and hear political leaders, financial supporters, Hyde-Bronx school leaders, and others toast what the school’s Board Chair, Herb Fixler, called

“the miracle on Hunts Point Avenue.” Those assembled were entertained by Hyde-Bronx’s talented high school student dancers under the direction of performing arts teacher Morenike Allen. The dance troupe performed “Protection, Growth, Evolving” to Beyonce’s “Halo.” One of the dancers, 16-year-old Amber Solomon, underscored what a big step this new building was for the Hunts Point community when she said, “I think this new high school building gives the community something to look forward to—hope. When people see Hyde Leadership Charter School they will smile and say, ‘I want my kids to go there.”

More photos on pages 4&5

In This Issue

A Message from Our Head of School

New High School Special Issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 A Message from Our Head of School . . . . . . . . . . 2 A Message from Our Board Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Opening Day Celebration Photographs . . . . 4-5 Designed for Learning . . . . . . . . . 6 Community Service at Hyde-Bronx . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Character Matters is published twice yearly by the Hyde Leadership Charter School 718-991-9550 Elementary and Middle School 730 Bryant Avenue Bronx, NY 10474 High School 830 Hunts Point Avenue Bronx, NY 10474 Character Matters Staff: Editor-in-Chief: Susan Marber Contributing Writers/Reporters: Jennifer Burns, Joe Gauld, Betsy Olney, Liz Springer, Cliff van Voorhees. Contributing Photographers: Lupita Alvarez, Ian-Duncan Ball, Richard Curran, Herb Fixler Consultant: AnnaLee Wilson Design: Kaeser and Wilson Design Ltd. Hyde Leadership Charter School School Leadership Team: Betsy Olney, Head of School Michael McNamara, Acting COO Celia Sosa, Director of High School Liz Springer, Director of Middle School Peter Anderson, Director of Elementary School Cindy Warnick, Director of H.S. Family Education Department Yvonnia Wise, Director of School Culture Maureen Greco-Blois, Special Education Coordinator Board of Trustees: Herbert B. Fixler, Board Chair Wilder D. Baker Deborah Dumont Shara Freeman Herbert M. Kaplan Robert F. Rosario David M. Steadly

Dear Friends and Supporters, While Americans continue to debate the merits of a school system based on the agrarian calendar, there’s one indisputable benefit to summers off: that sense of hope that a fresh September start brings. This year, that sense of rejuvenation and starting anew couldn’t be more pronounced. At the helm of the elementary division is a talented, dedicated, and passionate new leader, Peter Anderson. The middle school is finally complete with grades 4–8, and it can lay claim to a floor to call its own. And four blocks away on Hunts Point Avenue, the new high school building continues to have that new car smell that we all secretly hope will never fade. As one parent recently told me, the new Hyde high school is “the talk of Hunts Point Avenue.” Since we’ve moved in, we’ve heard so many expressions of gratitude from parents, staff, and students. I heard two students say they felt “professional” in this building, and another claim that he felt the space was “clean and calm, a place where I can learn.” A parent, who has seen Hunts Point through the ’80s and ’90s, emotionally said, “I really don’t think you even know what you’ve done here in this neighborhood.” While this gratitude is moving and the stories are powerful, they also speak to the state of American education and the great inequities that remain. While I feel this gratitude, too, I also look to the day in this country when a building like this doesn’t stand out in South Bronx. I look to a day when students and families come to expect a school like this, because it’s what all children deserve. Despite the state of education and the economic hardships that our nation currently faces, after five years in Hunts Point, Hyde-Bronx continues to gain strength and be a presence in the South Bronx. I am so very appreciative to be part of the Hyde-Bronx community, which this year includes almost 900 students in grades K–11. None of it could have been accomplished without the relentless commitment from our students, staff, families, Board of Trustees, and donors. Warmly,

Record-breaking Student Applications!

Betsy Olney Head of School

Hyde-Bronx had nearly 700 applicants for the current academic year…a new record. By law, siblings get first preference in the acceptance lottery. This means that the chance for a non-sibling to be selected for first grade at Hyde-Bronx was approximately 1 in 4. Clearly, the word has spread throughout the Hunts Point community about Hyde-Bronx’s successful approach to education and how much the school is doing to help its students and their families.

© 2011 Hyde Leadership Charter School 2


A Message from Our Board Chair I have had the honor and privilege to Chair the Board of Trustees of the Hyde Leadership Charter School since our school’s founding in early 2006. Over the past five years, I have seen our school make a difference in Hunts Point, and I am absolutely thrilled to have played a part in it. As with many of us who were and remain involved with Hyde-Bronx, my commitment started in 1997 when my son attended the Hyde boarding school in Bath, Maine. His (and my) three years at Hyde, proved to be a transforming experience for both of us. I came to believe that Hyde’s brand of family-based character education can make a significant difference for students and families who are exposed to it. Hyde-Bronx is devoted to the belief that the development of the student’s character is every bit as important as the student’s academic education and, in fact, is an integral part of that education. At the core of this belief are the Hyde tenets that principles are more important than rules, and that each of us is endowed with a unique potential that can define us and our destiny. Our new high school building, the “Miracle on Hunts Point Avenue,” and, indeed the Hyde Leadership Charter School itself, is evidence of what can be accomplished through teamwork of a group of motivated and dedicated individuals who are armed

with principles and goals, generous benefactors, and other nonprofit organizations such as Civic Builders and the business sector. With the opening of the Hyde Leadership Charter School high school building, our school, in five short years, has reached a milestone. This accomplishment will add immeasurably to our mission of working with parents and other caregivers to foster the development of well-educated and solid citizens. We could not have done this alone and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those of you who are reading this edition of Character Matters and have helped us work toward achieving our goal of building a great K–12 school in Hunts Point. If you have any questions about how you can help as we move forward in our journey, please feel free to let me know by dropping me a note at In closing, and on behalf of all of us at Hyde-Bronx, I extend to Cliff van Voorhees, our parting COO and co-founder of our school, our thanks for his tireless efforts and many contributions to making our school what it is today. Regards,

Herbert B. Fixler Board Chair

Above: Days after ground broke on construction in June 2011. (The school was completed August 18 this year.) Right: The building’s exterior stands out among the brown and red brick structures of Hunts Point Avenue, and the blue trim gives the building a pop of color. The lack of metal detectors also makes the high school even less like most schools in the area.



Opening Day Celebration

Head of School Betsy Olney welcomes a standing room only crowd in the new multi-purpose room which serves as an auditorium, gym and cafeteria.

Left: Board Chair Herb Fixler introduces Hyde Schools’ founder Joe Gauld and Hyde Foundation Executive Director Joanne Goubourn. Above: Head of School Betsy Olney does a second ribbon cutting to thank CEO David Umansky (third from left) of Civic Builders, the non-profit company that is owner and developer of the new building, and representatives from Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group and the Low Income Investment Fund who worked with Civic Builders to provide financing for the building.

Roberta Flack accepts well-deserved applause for her free after-school music program at Hyde-Bronx.


Student dancers performed, and some of the dancers wiped away tears as the audience gave them a standing ovation

Joe Gauld, Joanne Goubourn and Roberta Flack savor the moment.

Audience listens to the moving and congratulatory words of Hunts Point’s elected officials (left); Assemblyman Marcos Crespo; State Senator Ruben Diaz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. share the Opening Celebration with a Hyde-Bronx parent and students.



The design team created opportunities to increase student and teacher interactions beyond the classroom with common areas where students can study and meet, transparent workrooms for teachers with student lockers nearby, and flexible seating arrangements.

Designed for Learning uring the design process, the architects worked closely with Hyde-Bronx school administrators, teachers and students to create a space that aligns with Hyde-Bronx’s mission and helps foster 21st-century learning. Instead of the isolated “egg-crate” model that has been the mold of schools for more than 100 years, the new 31,500square-foot high school building has been designed to build community and foster collaboration, creativity and student-centered learning.


Flexible seating arrangements, unique spaces like a rooftop play area, and vibrant common areas on each of the three floors create spaces for students to work together in different ways. A teacher “workroom”—rather than teacher desks in classrooms—fosters collaboration among teachers, and a window into the teacher workroom increases student-teacher interactions beyond the classrooms. Additionally, a major decision was made to eliminate the metal detectors and steel bars that


many inner-city schools have these days so students would feel that this is a place where they are trusted. Hyde-Bronx students played an integral role in the design of the gleaming new Hyde-Bronx high school building and their involvement encourages a sense of pride that comes from ownership. Student choices can be felt in everything from the color of walls and bathroom tiles to furniture choices to the healthy food they are being served.

Students shared the excitement of being able to learn in the gleaming new high school building. Sisters Kristal and Bellanise Estrella (top); Friends Jassiel De La Cruz, Taiz Cepeda, Jonathan Aponte and Subryan Banggaroo who, next year, will be in the first Hyde-Bronx graduating class.

YOU CAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF A CHILD’S LIFE When you donate to Hyde-Bronx in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, you are part of something bigger. Not only are you helping each of our nearly 1,000 students in the nation’s poorest Congressional district become productive, contributing citizens, but you are also making a major impact on a community that has pretty much been left behind. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Hyde Leadership Charter School. By doing so you will be making a huge difference in a child’s life and helping to change the world for the better. A donor envelope is enclosed. Or, if you prefer, you can send your check to Lupita Alvarez, Development Office, Hyde Leadership Charter School, 730 Bryant Avenue, Bronx, NY 10474.


WHO WE ARE Although Hyde-Bronx offers a rigorous and effective college preparatory program, our overriding purpose is to prepare our students for life. Too many schools fall into the trap of teaching children to be good at school. At Hyde-Bronx we believe that school is not an end in itself. School should be a place where children develop character and begin to connect with a fulfilling personal destiny. At Hyde, developing a child’s character is as important as developing a child’s mind. We take a uniquely holistic approach to character development. It is not an “add on.” It is the foundation from which academic and non-academic curriculum is developed. We focus on preparing students both academically and for the challenges they will face throughout their lives. We recognize the connection between strong character and commitment to excellence in all areas of learning. Hyde’s emphasis on leadership, courage, commitment, integrity and character development is evident in our classrooms, as well as in our arts and athletics programs. We also understand the critical importance of parents in helping to develop a child’s character. Ultimately, parents are the primary teachers and home is the primary classroom. Under the guidance of Hyde-Bronx’s Family Education Department, parents attend monthly Parent Discovery Group Meetings and two annual off-site retreats, at which parents participate in their own selfdiscovery process to set a path for their own personal growth. When students see their parents struggling with their own personal issues and making an effort to set and achieve personal goals, they become motivated to do their best at home and at school.

Community Service at Hyde-Bronx

e salute 11th grader, Frank Olea, who spent six weeks this summer in the Dominican Republic on a community service trip with Global Potential. Global Potential is an international cultural exchange program for youth with a high potential to create social change locally and globally. The head of the Dominican Republic program wrote, “Frank is amaaaaazing! A true leader.” This is just one example of how much Hyde-Bronx’s character program is doing for our students. We are very proud of Frank.


ur congratulations also goes to a group of our middle school students in Ms. Smith and Ms. Norgrove’s classes who creatively planned and carried out doing street performances in Times Square to raise money to buy toys for kids who had lost theirs in fires. These students showed enormous courage performing for the large crowd of New Yorkers and out-of-town tourists. Plus, they raised a ton of money for this worthy cause.


ight of our high school juniors, accompanied by Hyde-Bronx Director of Athletics and Youth Development Matt Hittenmark, spent their Saturday running a table at the Hunts Point Alliance for Children’s Back to School Fair. The theme was safety, and our students provided information to parents on internet safety and how to prevent cyber-bullying. Congrats to our students for spending their weekend helping Hunts Point parents navigate this important issue.


Developing a Child’s Character is as Important as Developing a Child’s Mind High School 830 Hunts Point Avenue Bronx, NY 10474 Hyde Leadership Charter School Elementary & Middle School 730 Bryant Avenue Bronx, NY 10474

Character Matters Fall '11  

Character Matters Fall '11

Character Matters Fall '11  

Character Matters Fall '11