STATEN ISLAND, NY — One of the borough’s newest and most exciting schools hosted the city’s top education official on day two of the 2022-23 school year.
On Friday, City Schools Chancellor David Banks visited the Young Women’s Leadership School of Staten Island in Stapleton, a school dedicated to shaping the minds of future world leaders.
The school, which temporarily shares a brand new, $77 million four-story building with two other schools at 45 Waverly Place, welcomed its first class of 64 sixth-grade students on Thursday, just a day before the chancellor’s visit.
“I think the best part of being the founding class is you’re going to be the first kids to graduate from this school,” Banks told the students. “And all the students who come after you will follow your example. This is why it is so important for you to be leaders.
The Young Women’s Leadership School opened its first school in East Harlem in 1996 and has since grown into a nationwide network of prep schools for girls. The schools are centered on four main principles: leadership, health and well-being, university access and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).
In their 25 years of existence, the Young Women’s Leadership Schools have achieved a rate of 96% of female students graduating on time and 100% of female students being accepted into college.
Before the new school opened this year, Staten Island was the only New York City borough without a school for young women’s leadership.
The fight to get a school of leadership for young women on Staten Island dates back to 2016, when former borough president James Oddo first discussed the idea with the former Chancellor of the Department of Health. Education (DOE), Carmen Fariña.
Little progress was made over the next few years, but when Dr. Marion Wilson assumed the role of district superintendent last May, Oddo discussed his ongoing efforts with her and she agreed to work side-by-side with him. to make this dream a reality. .
The borough’s exclusion from programs provided to the rest of the city over the years has been a sore spot for the Staten Islanders, but it’s something Banks hopes to change during his tenure.
“It is extremely important for me and for the mayor as well. We want to move past this notion of forgotten rounding,” Banks said. “Staten Island should have the same benefits as everyone else.”
“I’ve been to Staten Island quite a bit, and I will continue to do so and be as supportive as possible…I’m thrilled to be the chancellor who will lean in and provide additional support for Staten Island,” he added.
During his visit, the Chancellor created affirmation boards with the students, writing words of encouragement such as ‘I am loved’, ‘I am proud of myself’ and ‘I am enough’ on erasable boards dry with reflective centers, then repeating the positive words while looking in the mirror.
Later, he joined a second class to participate in a restorative circle where students took turns sharing the different traits they associate with integrity, various examples from their personal experiences, and ways in which they can integrate these values in their daily lives.
Earlier in her career, Banks was principal of an Eagle Academy School in the Bronx, which is similar to Young Women’s Leadership Schools, but for male students. This gave him first-hand knowledge of the benefits of offering these types of school options to students.
“We have to have all different types of schools. As a parent, you want to send your child to a school that is perfect for them. Sometimes it’s a big school. Sometimes it’s a school that has a certain theme. Sometimes it’s a small school,” Banks said.
“Then you have single-sex schools; boys-only or girls-only schools. It’s not for everyone, but for kids who would like to be in a single-sex school, who think it’s going to be really good for them, school is like young women’s leadership, it’s like a brotherhood. All young girls get to know each other, grow together and inspire each other. This is a big problem,” he added.
Banks encouraged students to champion ideas they would like to implement at school, reflecting on his time at Eagle Academy when a student suggested to him that different classes carry different bonds, which has since become a tradition. for a long time at school.
“You have an opportunity here to think of new ways of doing things that perhaps no other Young Women’s Leadership School has ever done before,” he said. “But you can do it, because you’ve come up with a new creative idea. Always think of new ways to make school more exciting, to make it even better than it was before.
Aisha Shepard, principal of Young Women’s Leadership School of Staten Island, has worked at other young women’s leadership schools in the past and said she was grateful for the chance to bring those experiences to the community. from Staten Island.
“To be able to have the opportunity to impact this community in the way that I will be able to with the full support of the Chancellor fills my heart with so much happiness,” Shepard said.