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Fall 2008, Volume 1, Number 1


Hyde-Bronx Students Experience the Wilderness by Celia Sosa, Social Studies teacher n early July, 12 students, three Hyde-Bronx faculty members, and our Head of School, Joanne W. Goubourn, traveled seven hours from Hunts Point in the Bronx to Bath, Maine, to experience the Hyde Wilderness Program. As we drove along through Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, many students commented on how this was the first time they were crossing state lines. In the next eight days we worked and played together, accepted challenges, examined our own attitudes, and discovered strengths we never knew we had. We returned inspired, motivated, and changed.


Day 1—Hyde Campus First stop, Bath, Maine, where four Hyde student interns joined us. We toured the Hyde boarding school campus, had dinner with Joe Gauld, founder of Hyde, and walked over a local bridge enjoying the scenic views. Quite different from the South Bronx. Day 2—Rock Climbing After enjoying the morning at a beautiful nearby beach, we spent the afternoon climbing the rock wall on the Bath campus. Like most of the kids, Arhema, 13, had never climbed a rock wall. “I took a risk when I climbed the rock wall for the first time. I was scared and hesitant to

go up. I am afraid of heights, so that made it worse. Halfway I looked down and asked if I could come down, but Mr. Truluck said ‘No.’ I kept on going and got to the top. I felt I had really accomplished something.” When Arhema finally got to the top of the wall, she was so excited and you could see a real sense of accomplishment in her face. Day 3—Clearing Trails After an early breakfast, we spent the entire day working with the Maine Conservation Corps, clearing trails in the state park. Several of the kids weren’t crazy about the idea of working so hard and so long, but I was proud that they

all did it. At the end of the day, many of the kids were exhausted and glad the project was over, but one could see that this challenge made them realize they were physically and mentally stronger than they thought. As we say at Hyde, we all learned to challenge and redefine our mental and physical limits. In the evening, Joe Gauld led a seminar and facilitated a discussion about finding one’s unique potential, the importance of teamwork, and being responsible for others in our life. Day 4—Yurts This morning, Malcolm Gauld, Hyde’s President, spoke to us about the importance of being truthful, working hard, and being nice to those around us. We then drove two hours north to Eustis, Maine. There, we stayed in yurts—portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structures used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. We walked in the woods and swam in continued on page 3

In This Issue Hyde-Bronx Students Experience the Wilderness . . . 1, 3 Welcome Message . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 A Message from Our Head of School . . . . . . . . . . 2 New York Charter Schools Update . . . . . . . 4 Academic Achievement . . . . . . . . . 4 Teacher Retention . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Parent Satisfaction . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 News Bites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 –5 Parent Profile: Isha Smith Allen . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Character Matters is published twice yearly by the Hyde Leadership Charter School 730 Bryant Avenue, Bronx, NY 10474 Telephone: (718) 991-5500 Character Matters Staff: Editor-in-Chief: Susan Marber Contributing Writers: Joanne W. Goubourn, Betsy Olney, Celia Sosa, Cindy Warnick, Bill Barron, Herb Fixler, Herb Kaplan Contributing Photographers: Bill Barron, Herb Fixler, Cindy Warnick Consultant: AnnaLee Wilson Design: Kaeser and Wilson Design Ltd. Hyde Leadership Charter School Board of Trustees: Joanne W. Goubourn, Head of School; Herbert B. Fixler, Board Chair; Steven H. Cary, Vice-Chair; Herbert M. Kaplan; David M. Steadly; Elenor Denker; Jeffrey Lund

Welcome! This is our first issue of Character Matters, the Hyde Leadership Charter School newsletter. We plan to publish twice a year so we can keep you apprised of the goings on at the school and introduce you to some of Hyde-Bronx’s very special students, parents, and faculty. Our goal at Hyde-Bronx is to provide our South Bronx students with a rigorous family-based character education that will not only make a real difference in our children’s futures, but will also help transform public education in New York City. When we look back at where we were when we opened our doors in September 2006, we can’t help but be proud of the progress we have made in just two years. That said, we know there is much, much more to be done. Needless to say, we want to thank our many friends and supporters. We couldn’t have done any of this without your help.

A Message from Our Head of School Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx is a special place. After two years, the Hunts Point community has embraced our school and our vision, and I’m very proud of what we have accomplished with our wonderful team of professionals. I have been involved with the start-up of four urban schools. Each time we get better, but our Hyde-Bronx experience is one that exemplifies the best of what Hyde has to offer in organization, planning, collaboration, and implementation. We are governed by an exceptional board of trustees and have the assistance and guidance of the Hyde Foundation. From the start we have worked hard to build a true partnership with our parents, together helping students go after their best. Hyde-Bronx parents and guardians consistently step up to meet the high expectations required of them. They are truly inspiring in the way they lead their families. Personally, this school represents the realization of a dream for me. My dream has been a school that can provide a top-notch, rigorous academic program and, utilizing the Hyde character culture, meet the emotional needs of all students, parents, and staff—a school that will thrive, making decisions based on what is best for the students and not for the adults. Hyde-Bronx is a daily demonstration of love and concern for children and families. It connects the hopes and dreams of all students, parents and staff. Driven by the core belief that every person is gifted with a unique potential, this is simply an exciting place to be.

Joanne W. Goubourn Head of School

© 2008 Hyde Leadership Charter School 2

Hyde-Bronx Students Experience the Wilderness continued from front page

a lake on the 600-acre property. In the afternoon, the kids paired off for trust walks in the woods. One of the kids in each pair was blindfolded and had to depend on and trust his or her partner. This exercise really brought to life Joe Gauld’s talk last night about being responsible for others. There were lots of mosquitoes and bugs, but it was great fun. “I took a new risk hiking. I never knew I could do it because of how small I feel. It took a great amount of strength that I never knew I had.” —Justin B., 13 Day 5—Whitewater Rafting The day was spent whitewater rafting. Justin M. said he was scared that he would drown or smash into rocks and tip over, but the group worked together and worked hard. When we returned to land, Justin said, “I learned that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I think all the kids learned to appreciate the importance of working together as a team. This was especially important since many of the students didn’t know how to swim.

Day 7—Camping and Reflecting The beginning of the day was spent canoeing and then students prepared and delivered final presentations reflecting on their experiences. They talked about how this experience demanded courage, integrity, leadership, curiosity, concern and more. Everyone realized that whether you are in Maine or the Bronx, we each have the capacity to embrace our best. As one of the students described these seven days, it was “the time of my life.” “My attitude was most challenged when I had to stop shooting everything down before I tried it. I overcame this by asking people I trusted to help me with my feelings. When I did that, the trip was more enjoyable for me and the others.” —Janet, 13 “Something I am taking away from the trip is that risks are almost unavoidable. I can use this insight in developing my leadership skills. Sometimes I might need to challenge others and sometimes

“when you are being challenged, you may not like the person who is challenging you. That’s a risk worth taking.” —Saddat, 13 “Coming out of this, I am committed to talking more about my feelings. I now feel very powerful and strong. Before coming here, I would get mad or frustrated and never catch myself. This would get me in so much trouble. This experience has helped me catch myself, change my attitude and relax more. This retreat has also taught me to value life. I can truly say that I now feel the power of Hyde, as well as the love and caring the school has for each and every one of us.” —Narely, 12 Day 8—Home Sweet Home When we arrived back in Hunts Point, students commented on how it was “weird” to look out at the neighborhood. Not much seemed to have changed, but something was different. They were.

“I took a risk when I went whitewater rafting. I was scared of drowning or smashing into rocks and tipping over. But my group worked hard together. I saw that the only way to get things done was hard work and teamwork.” —Justin M., 12 Day 6—Mountain Climbing We all climbed to the summit of Burnt Mountain. It wasn’t easy. This was a daylong hike and we again learned that our perceived limits can be deceiving. “ The time I was most challenged was when we went up the mountain. At first, my attitude was ‘Are they crazy? I can’t do this!’ I resolved this by asking myself how will you feel if you don’t do it? You can’t be afraid to try new things.” —Whitney, 13

special thank you to Bill Barron (pictured above, left) at Hyde-Bath who gave up his one week off this summer to lead the students through the Maine wilderness. In his reflections, we think Bill summed things up well: “As different as our cultures and backgrounds may be, what brings us together in life is a profound sense of compassion for all with whom we share this planet, an appreciation of the challenge and choices of our human condition, and the intentionality of purpose which comes from knowing that each of us has the capacity to make a difference.” ■




New York Charter Schools Update While Hyde-Bronx students did particularly well academically, test results for New York City Charter School students, in general, outpaced those of traditional public school students by a wide margin. Both English and math results in every grade for charter school students exceeded those of students attending regular public schools. Eighteen new charter schools have opened in New York City this fall, bringing the total number of charter schools in New York City to 78. Among other things, the creation of the new schools reflects amendments to the New York State Charter Schools Act, which were adopted last year and included expansion of the statewide number of charter schools from 50 to 100. (The amendment also imposed significant new restrictions and requirements related to the issuance, revision, and renewal of charters.)

Hyde-Bronx Bests Peer Group The NYC Department of Education was so impressed by our academic growth, it asked to use our Progress Report for its training session, saying, “Your school’s report tells a particularly fascinating story about the amount of growth you were able to make in one year with your students, compared to similar schools in your peer group (similar demographics)—basically, from the preliminary figures, it looks like your school surpassed all schools in a 40school peer group in terms of growth.”

Academic Achievement Hyde-Bronx students made some great strides in learning this year! So great, in fact, that the NYC Department of Education gave our school an “A” in Student Progress. After only one full year of instruction, seventh graders improved their performance on the NYS English Language Arts exam from 44.3% proficiency in 2007, to 55.7% proficiency in 2008—a gain of more than 11 percentage points! In math, the seventh graders posted similar gains, improving from 71.6% in 2007, to 82% in 2008, to beat both the district and city averages! It’s important to note that our 2007 incoming sixth graders arrived at HydeBronx an average of two years below their grade level and the state English Language Arts assessments were made in January, only four months into the school year. We look forward to seeing even more growth in the 2008-2009 school year.

Teacher Retention At a time when many New York City schools lose more than 25% of their teachers each year, teacher retention at Hyde-Bronx has been excellent. Virtually all of our teachers from last year are continuing on this year. Earlier in the year, during an evaluation by the NYC Center for Charter School Excellence, the evaluating team commented that Hyde-Bronx had some of the happiest teachers of any charter school they had visited. From the beginning, Hyde-Bronx has created a supportive environment for its teachers and staff, resulting in low turnover, high morale, and a very positive impact on the students.

Parent Satisfaction Our school received high marks from parents on a survey conducted by the Department of Education this year. Some 97% said they were satisfied (26%) or very satisfied (71%) with opportunities offered for parent involvement at the school. And, while most schools are thrilled to have 20% –30% of their parents attend school meetings, more than 60% of Hyde-Bronx families attended monthly Family Learning Program meetings throughout the year.


5Visit from Bronx

Borough President We were fortunate to welcome Bronx Borough President, Adolfo Carrion, to Hyde-Bronx. After talking with our faculty and staff, he toured several of our classrooms, and was impressed by the quality of teaching (firm, fair, crisppaced) and the social climate (teachers loving, but demanding, students kind, supportive, orderly, calm). Borough President Carrion then talked to the students about the importance of leadership and integrity, for both public officials and citizens, no matter their age. All-School Talent Show At the end of May, Hyde-Bronx put together an amazing talent show. Sitting in the audience one felt overwhelmed by the immense amount of talent and courage our students, faculty, staff, and parents have. Yup, parents, staff, and faculty participated. Just shows what a true community Hyde-Bronx is.

at the Alcorn State Annual Jazz Festival. It was a wonderful event and our students performed a one-hour concert at the Convention Center. They were also able to squeeze in their first college tour and experience a boat ride on the mighty Mississippi River.

Frances L. & Edwin L. Cummings Memorial Fund, ICAP, The Margaret Jameson Mellor Memorial Fund, the New York Center for Charter School Excellence and a significant anonymous donation thanks to Roberta Flack. To find out how you can provide financial support to Hyde-Bronx or to arrange a visit to our school, please contact Lupita Alvarez at 1-718-991-5500 or e-mail With your help, we can transform public education in New York City and make a real difference in our children’s futures.

5 Tennis Anyone? It was a beautiful Saturday in June when 18 aspiring tennis players from Hyde-Bronx descended on Randall’s Island for a day of tennis lessons. We saw some terrific potential among the students and, at the end of the day, virtually all the sixth and seventh grade tennis neophytes wanted to know when they could practice again. A special thank you to Board member David Steadly and his wife, Suzanne, who organized this fun day.

Pitching In Hyde-Bronx teachers and staff helped our brochure cover boy, Doniek LaForest, earn more than $1,100 toward his college fund by bringing in bottles and cans at the end of every week. Doniek and his great aunt couldn’t be more thankful for all of the support and help. Talk about making a difference and coming together as a community!

5Open House Successes

Our two Open Houses during the 20072008 academic year were enormous successes. Supporters and friends had the opportunity to tour classrooms and meet Head of School, Joanne W. Goubourn, founder of the Hyde Schools, Joe Gauld, Assistant Head of School, Betsy Olney, Director of Elementary Schools, Ken Kerns, as well as some of our students, parents, faculty and board members. The buffet breakfast was pretty tasty as well. Fox 5 Features Hyde-Bronx Musicians On June 19, Fox 5’s Good Day New York visited Hyde-Bronx and featured five of the students from our Roberta Flack School of Music, entertaining other earlyrisers at City Hall Park for the start of the city’s Music New York Festival.

5Playing Central Park

On Saturday, June 21, with Robert Flack as the host/announcer, 12 of our Roberta Flack Music School students performed in Central Park as part of the Music New York Festival. They were professional, poised, and just plain terrific. Mississippi Jazz Gig Fifteen of our middle school students spent the weekend in Vicksburg, Mississippi, participating and performing

Donations Exceed $480,000 As we complete our second academic year, we are pleased to report that, to date, Hyde-Bronx has received donations from generous individuals and grants from foundations, corporations, and governmental agencies exceeding $480,000. The New York City Department of Education provides us funding on a per-pupil basis that equates to about 80% of what regular public schools receive. Given this lower amount and the incremental cost of the Hyde family-based character program, we find ourselves under-funded to do the job that needs to be done to provide the level and scope of education that will prepare all of our students for college and life’s challenges. We are particularly grateful to have received significant grants over our short history from the Achelis & Bodman Foundations, Peter J. Sharp Foundation, 5

Shop Online to Support Hyde-Bronx Now you can turn your everyday shopping into contributions for our school. Shop at hundreds of your favorite leading name-brand online merchants including Amazon, Best Buy, Bloomingdale’s, GAP, JC Penney, Kmart, Nike, Nordstom, Office Depot, Office Max, Old Navy, Sports Authority, Staples, Walmart, Zappos and lots more. Our school receives a contribution of up to 20% on every purchase! It’s simple and it’s free. Just go to and click Join. Choose the Hyde Leadership Charter School to receive the contributions from your purchases. Then start shopping. That’s all there is to it. And, if your company purchases office supplies online, please encourage the person in charge to use every time an online purchase is made so that a percentage of the order is contributed to the Hyde Leadership Charter School. ■

Parent Profile: Isha Smith Allen by Cindy Warnick, Family Learning Center Director Parent involvement is the key to student success. Hyde School’s distinguishing feature—family-based character education— requires a commitment from parents/guardians that spans the year and goes well beyond academics. As parents model going after their best, they teach their children to do the same. Practicing the Hyde process of self discovery just as their students do, parents attend monthly Parent Discovery Group meetings and may also attend weekend retreats. sha Smith Allen, 29, is one of the founding parents of Hyde-Bronx. Her son, Javorne, was a sixth-grader in September, 2006, when the school opened its doors. “I saw something different” about Hyde-Bronx, she says of her first impression. “What was different was the parent involvement. In regular public school, you don’t know anything. All you get is a report card. But Hyde was the opposite.” At first, Isha says of Hyde’s expectations of parents: “I thought: ‘They’re asking too much.’ I was shy and didn’t participate as much as I should.” She says her fulltime job as a retail cashier, combined with her part-time college courses in nursing, kept her from attending many of the Hyde parent meetings. By the end of the year, however, “I started to feel more comfortable with the environment and the people and the process.” What changed her outlook? “Javorne liked it. Even though he didn’t do that well, he wanted to go to school every


730 Bryant Avenue Bronx, NY 10474 (718) 991-5500

morning. That was new.” In the second year, Isha reworked her schedule to attend all of the parent meetings. “I started to learn and to share. Sometimes it felt like going to the doctor, where you’re talking to a stranger, but you have trust.” In the fall, Isha and her son attended a Family Learning Center retreat— “Javorne wanted to go so bad—that’s what really got me there,” she says. “But I jumped in and did what was asked. I learned so much about myself.” A high point of the retreat was Isha on the ropes course. “I was scared to death,” she admits. “My legs were shaking. I’m afraid of heights! But I didn’t give up… Afterwards, I had a good feeling.” With the retreat experience, Isha began to see herself as a leader. She attended not just the monthly parent meetings, but also the training sessions to teach parents to become facilitators of the Hyde seminars. By the spring, Isha accepted the challenge of bringing the

Hyde parent perspective to a larger community. She was a presenter at the national Character Symposium held on campus at Hyde-Woodstock in Connecticut. With two administrators, she spoke about the importance of the home-school partnership. “I wasn’t nervous, I was excited to do it,” she says of the experience at the symposium. “Now I feel Hyde as part of my life, and I like sharing that.” For the 2008-2009 school year, Isha will be a parent facilitator, leading a group of parents in monthly seminars. She’s looking forward to it: “I think one of my strengths is helping people.” Her advice to parents today: “If you’re part of Hyde, give it 100 percent. I leave every meeting feeling better. I might’ve learned something from another parent, helped someone, or just gotten something off my chest. The message to parents: Be here!” ■

Character Matters Fall 2008  

Hyde Leadership Charter School's first Character Matters newsletter.

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