Newark middle school students “Cook, Learn, Grow” with culinary curriculum

Chef Ameer Natson is hiding a reading, math and problem-solving curriculum in plain sight with his culinary curriculum at George Washington Carver middle school.

Rutgers-Newark to undertake search for public scholar to occupy newly endowed academic chair commemorating Dr. Clement Price

The search is on for a scholar to fill the newly-approved Clement A. Price Chair in Public History and the Humanities at Rutgers-Newark. It commemorates the late Dr. Clement A. Price, the lauded and beloved Rutgers-Newark history scholar and official Newark historian who passed away in November of 2014.

New campaign invites Newark class of 2016 graduates to historic City Hall photo shoot this month [registration]

participate cardIt started as casual musing on Facebook just over a month ago.

“You know what i’d like to see/help organize?,” wrote Shanell Dunns, who is the deputy director of the New Jersey Black Alliance for Educational Options, or BAEO. “A citywide photoshoot, in one of our parks, of all rising college freshman adorned in their college t-shirts/hat.”

The comments that flowed in were swift and affirmative in favor of such a display, with many people offering to help organize the event. The following day, Dunns confirmed to her followers that the shoot was “about to go down.” About a week later, it had a name and a hashtag.

“Knowledge lives in Newark.” #BondingBrickScholars.


Now the event has a complete framework around it: the photo shoot will take place on Sunday, July 17th on the steps of Newark City Hall (rain date: August 16th) and is calling on 2016 high school graduates from Newark who are entering their freshman year in college or enlistment in the armed forces, as well as 2016 graduates of traditional and non-traditional colleges and universities. Participants should wear their regalia.

The shoot is well in line with BAEO’s mission: it hopes to both highlight and embody academic excellence in Newark by showing off the city’s scholars in the flesh, and to use that image to continue promoting academic achievement. In the process, the organizers also want to push back against the idea that Newarkers don’t achieve success, and to highlight the diversity of post-graduate choices by inviting Newarkers who will pursue a spectrum of post-graduate options.

Class of 2016 graduates who would like to participate should register online. Check-in is at 9 a.m. on the morning of the photoshoot, and the shoot itself will take place at 10 a.m.

For more information, visit

Rising college freshman can sign up for free academic prep and a stipend this August

newarku cardNewark residents entering their freshman year at a four-year college or university can sign up for a series of pre-college preparation sessions and get a $250 stipend upon completion of the program.

The Newark College Freshman Institute, now in its fifth year, will offer professional and personal development workshops, special guest speakers, and face time with leaders from across the worlds of education, business, and the civic sector during all-day sessions from August 8 through August 11.


In previous years, the workshops have included instruction on résumé writing, financial literacy, social media etiquette, networking, and career planning. The program is an initiative of the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, whose goal is to have 25 percent of Newark residents holding a post-secondary degree by the year 2025. Programming for the four-day series is meant to provide new college students the tools to be thoughtful about their curriculum choices as they embark on their college careers.

The deadline to register online for the program is June 15. Rising college freshman can find the form here.

One teacher and three students from Newark recognized by national education organization

education cardSchools That Can, an urban schools network that connects charter, district, independent, and faith-based schools in 15 cities including Newark to share best practices and innovations with each other, recently announced 10 finalists for its third annual Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Awards. Four Newark education figures – including three students and one school leader – are among them.

Dominique Lee, CEO of BRICK and co-creator of the South Ward Alliance, was recognized for her three-hundred-sixty degree approach to education, which involves not only work in the classroom but “high quality case management of health and social services,” according to a statement about the finalists.


Eighth grader Thabitha Kobia, a native of Ghana who attends Discovery Charter School, is noted for her anti-bullying work, while high school seniors Mujahir Lesure and Mustafa Jones-Norton of Newark Collegiate Academy, who were nominated as a pair, were recognized for organizing a peaceful student protest in response to teacher firings.

Kerry Kennedy, president of RFKennedy Human Rights and daughter of the late attorney general Robert F.Kennedy, will present one award per category (in addition to school leaders and students, a teacher will also be awarded) on June 11 at the Schools That Can National Forum at New York University’s Kimmel Center.

The theme for this year’s two-day forum, the organization’s eleventh annual, is “Re-Imagining the Education Pathway,” and it will include sessions on bridging the education-to-employment gap and student readiness for higher education.

The Schools That Can organization in Newark currently includes 24 schools, including seven district schools, 13 charter schools, and three independent and/or faith-based schools.

Newark high school winner of Congressional Art Competition will have work displayed in U.S. Capitol

art cardCongressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. held an awards reception Monday afternoon at the Newark Museum to recognize the winners of the 2016 Congressional Art Competition for New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District.

The overall winner out of 60 pieces of art submitted from 16 high schools in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District was Newark’s own Lawrence Armour, of Arts High School.

“I am always impressed by the creative pieces our local students submit and look forwarding to sharing them with our community and the entire country,” said Payne, Jr., according to a statement. “This year was no exception.”


Congressmen Donald Payne, Jr. pictured with art contest winner and Arts High School student

Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. pictured with art contest winner and Arts High School student

The annual nationwide contest is sponsored by the Congressional Institute in order for members of the U.S. Congress to recognize and encourage the artistic talent of their constituents. Since the Congressional Art Competition began in 1982, over 650,000 high school students have participated.

Armour’s winning submission, entitled “Digital Arts,” will be displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol for Members of Congress, staff, and visitors to see. In June, Armour will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in a national ceremony with other winners from around the country.

The second- and third-place winners in the district were Shawna Reid, from Jersey City Arts High School, for her submission, “Paralysis,” and Jaleel Kerr, from East Orange Campus High School, for his submission, “Seven Deadly Sins.”

Award reception images via Flickr.

Habitat for Humanity Newark to hold its first-ever college fair Saturday, April 9

As a part of its Neighborhood Revitalization Program, Habitat for Humanity Newark will host its first-ever college fair on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at People’s Preparatory Charter School, 321 Bergen St. in Newark.

The event is free; high school students and their parents are encouraged to attend.

Many area schools, universities and social service agencies will be present, including Rutgers University -Newark, Saint Peter’s University, Berkeley College, Essex County College, University of Phoenix, New Jersey City University, Pillar College, Hudson County Community College, and New Jersey Institute of Technology, among many others.

Students are encouraged to come out to meet representatives, ask questions about financial aid and scholarships, and learn about services available from community organizations.

As a Neighborhood Revitalization affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, Habitat Newark says it has been making incredible strides to improve conditions and build community in host neighborhoods. Habitat Newark is now working with about 75 partner families who reside in the West and Central Wards between Springfield and South Orange Avenues and Bergen and South 20th Streets.

Adult students are also welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served. For more information, please contact Habitat Newark at 973-624-3330 x103.

First Lady’s visit highlights Newark school’s innovative food program

education cardMichelle Obama paid a visit to Philip’s Academy Charter School on Central Avenue in Newark yesterday as part of her American Garden tour, which is taking her from city to city to highlight community and school-based gardens around the country. She planted a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House in 2009 to start a national conversation about health and wellness.

Mrs. Obama first toured the school’s 4,500 square foot garden rooftop. Then she visited its cafeteria to see the Aerofarms hydroponic indoor growing lab and enjoy a light sit down meal with about a half dozen students. The “Today” show’s Al Roker joined students at an adjacent table.

Mrs. Obama made conversation with her young dining companions, asking them about their favorite foods, hearing details about their experience at the school, and answering their questions in turn. (What we learned: squash is her favorite soup, Mexican her favorite cuisine, and pizza her all-time favorite dish.)


While the encounter will likely become a standout memory for the students who participated, Mrs. Obama’s visit also highlighted the success of EcoSpaces, Philip’s Academy’s food-based curriculum, whose rising profile warranted her visit in the first place.

“[The EcoSpaces] program is what brings a lot of students and families to the school,” said Dale Anglin, who chairs the school’s board of trustees, and whose son attended the school. “It’s what the school is known for, and it’s what the kids like,” she continued.

EcoSpaces leverages hands-on learning techniques and features instruction in gardening — including advanced gardening techniques involving hydroponics — and cooking. That instruction anchors much of the Philip’s Academy curriculum and ethos.

The school’s rooftop garden supports its teaching kitchen, where students learn about food chemistry by preparing, serving and eating it. Meals are eaten family style at circular tables in the school’s cafeteria to facilitate positive interaction. Philip’s Academy’s farm stand helps teach the students business fundamentals and connects the school and curriculum to their families. And the menus themselves are specially developed onsite and meant to expand students’ palates and connect them with what produce is in season.

philips student

The curriculum also encourages an essential lost art, said Frank Mentesena, director of the EcoSpaces program. A lot of people are “not sure what it takes to get food from the ground,” he said, referring to the fact that in a world of big agriculture, many of us simply don’t know how to grow our own food. Philip’s Academy’s students, by contrast, understand how food is grown, how it makes its way to their tables, and how consuming it manifests health and wellness outcomes.

And the effects of that deeply integrated instruction manifested during Mrs. Obama’s visit. The students bantered fluently about healthy foods and growing techniques over their granola and beet smoothies. Seventh grader Kelsey Roberson, who asked Mrs. Obama what her favorite soup is, later described the experience as “surreal” — and as a good time.

“It was really fun,” Kelsey said. “I can’t believe that Michelle Obama was actually at my school.”