Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Pat on the Back

I'm not shy. If someone wants to give me more credit than I deserve, I'll take it. Ed Notes put out the press release telling the story of the closing of Brooklyn Comprehensive Night School (based in South Shore HS) in Feb., 2007. Some of the papers picked up the story. (Not the NY Times, of course.) The UFT did respond when the press showed interest and if I remember correctly, played a role in extending the school's life.

BCNHS was a school that ran from the afternoon through the evening (for kids that had jobs, etc) four nights a week.

Flo has a tribute to the founding principal of BCNHS (see picture on the right) on her blog here and here.

Malaika Holman-Bermiss (right) died in January.

You have been the champion and hero who I have looked to this whole year for a reason to go on. You reminded me that there was still truth, honesty and high intelligence at work in the world. And you cared about me even when I could not be brave.

In the flood of people that we asked to save Brooklyn Comprehensive, you were the only person who really helped us and I will always believe that the publicity we got because you sent out the press release helped us get that extra year. 40 kids graduated in January who never would've had the chance and about that many will in June. Some kids will finish in other places, but at least they didn't give up and they got a little closer with the people they trusted most. You made that possible.

Malaika Holman-Bermiss, BCNHS' founding principal, passed away just this February. She was just 56. It was cancer. When she was 40, she was working on building her school. At the time, there was a place in the DOE to create a place where people could be creative, kids could learn and everyone could feel absolutely safe. We never had an incident that I can remember while she was principal (we had one with Grace Garafolo and a few with the current principal.) She wasn't a big woman at all or a tough one in a physical way. She just had absolute intellectual clarity. This was about helping young adults live their lives and love to learn. Anything that stood in the way was garbage. Anything that did those things was a good thing. I'm 40 and I can't guarantee that I can offer that kind of place to anyone or that kind of environment to any student and that is my failing somehow.

You gave my school an extra year and a lot of kids and their families will be forever grateful.


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