Friday, July 5, 2013

Speaker Oliver Addresses 2013 Graduates

On June 25th, 2013 Pride Academy Charter School celebrated its 5th Commencement with the graduation of 66 students from the 8th grade class of 2013. The first African-American to lead a legislative house in New Jersey and second in the country, Speaker Shelia Y. Oliver of the New Jersey Assembly, served as the graduation speaker for Pride Academy’s 2013 graduation.

Speaker Oliver (center) with board president, Mr. Mitchell (left), and Pride’s Academy’s principal, Mrs. Thomas (right).
During Speaker Oliver’s speech to the graduating students, she focused on the importance of making the right choices. The Speaker told the graduates that Pride had already instilled a strong foundation for success through the core base of values that make up the fabric of the school. Each letter in the name “Pride” --Peace. Respect. Integrity. Determination. Empathy--represents a core value that guides every aspect of the school.

Speaker Oliver shared a few anecdotes from her life as a student and informed the students that to live a middle class lifestyle, they must make attending college a priority. She went on to say, “9th-12th grade is the period during which you’ll determine what will happen to you for the rest of your lives… I know that Pride Academy has given you the road map to success.” The graduates and the audience were captivated by the personal and genuine nature of Speaker Oliver’s inspirational speech.

Pride Academy’s class of 2013 will be attending an array of high schools including public, private, and parochial schools. A few of the schools are STEM Academy in East Orange, Christ the King, in Newark, Marist High School in Bayonne, Westtown School in Chester, PA, and People’s Prep in Newark

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pride Academy Wins EPIC Award

Pride Academy recently received an Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) Silver Gains Award for Driving Dramatic Student Achievement Gains. Pride Academy faculty members received the award from the New Leaders organization in recognition of the school's impact on students and to assist the school in sharing information about their practices with other schools.

Pride Academy was the only school in New Jersey and one of only 14 charter schools from across the country to be honored by the New Leaders’ Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) program for driving the highest student achievement gains.

On receiving the EPIC Award, Pride Academy’s Principal, Mrs. Thomas, said: “We are proud of our entire school community and grateful to New Leaders for providing an opportunity to recognize the hard work, effort, and determination of our students and teachers and for providing access to a rich professional development system of resources and expertise that will continue to support and build our dedicated community of learners. Our teachers and administrators purposefully create and cause the circumstances and rigorous learning culture where critical thinking, questioning, problem solving, and decision making count in impacting lives and shaping futures. We regard this EPIC Award as a tribute honoring our entire school wide community and our collective mission of empowerment in scholarship, leadership, and service.

This year, 179 charter schools from 24 states and the District of Columbia competed in the EPIC National Charter School Consortium for $1.1 million in incentive funds. EPIC award winners are selected solely based on growth made over the previous three years in student state test scores.

Learning from Effective Practices 

The power of EPIC lies in the opportunity for educators to learn from one another about the effective practices that contribute to student achievement gains. All EPIC award-winning schools engage in a thorough investigation with the EPIC team to study and document the school practices and leadership actions that contributed to their success. Case studies and profiles from award-winning charter schools will be posted on the EPIC website.

EPIC and New Leaders 

New Leaders launched the Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) in 2006 to learn what is working to transform high need schools and use that knowledge to enhance the New Leaders program and provide professional development tools for educations nationwide.

The EPIC program operates in partnership with a consortium of charter and public schools across the country and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF),

New Leaders is a national nonprofit that develops transformational school leaders and promotes the system-level conditions that allow strong leaders to succeed.

Making History Again at Pride!

 NJ Charter School Teacher of the Year!

We are very proud to share that Mr. Charlie Dunn (LAL Department Chair and 8th grade LAL teacher) has been selected as New Jersey Charter School Teacher of the Year!

Mr. Dunn is our second teacher to receive this prestigious recognition. In 2010, Ms Cenac was selected as the NJ Charter School Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Dunn was presented with his award at the Annual NJCSA Conference in Atlantic City on March 27th, 2012. During the award ceremony, Mr. Dunn paid tribute to and honored his Pride colleagues and students and gave an inspiring acceptance speech that showcased his passion for teaching and learning.

This is an excellent tribute to Mr. Dunn’s as well as a representation to the strong professional learning community that we continue to build here at Pride Academy.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Coming Together to Build a Dream

For over a year now, our Parent Council has been steadily working towards the dream of building a playground for our students. In a little over a year, they have raised $1,600!

Their hard work and dedication put Pride Academy in the perfect position for an amazing opportunity that recently became available to us. About four weeks ago, we were contacted by KaBOOM, a non-profit organization that connects corporate sponsors with great schools and organizations who need playgrounds.

Since then, it’s been full-steam ahead! The whole community has rallied to complete the application, sign petitions, attend interviews, and raise the remaining $7,000 needed to earn the grant and get our playground built. Our coupon book fundraiser was a great success, bringing in over $2,000. To date, we are about $4,000 short of our goal.

This week, we will launch our next big fundraiser. We will be hosting a “FUN-A-THON”, where all Pride students will be challenged to get sponsors for either jumping rope, hula-hooping, or dribbling a basketball. Families and friends will be asked to pledge flat donations or donations per minute of “FUN”. The fundraiser will culminate with a community celebration called “An Indoor Playground for Our Outdoor Dream” on Saturday, March 10th. Our common room will be converted into an indoor park, where students will jump, hula-hoop, and dribble basketball to meet their pledge requirements. Our indoor park will have hot dog stands, Italian ices, and more for sale, with profits going to the playground fund.

We look forward to your support in order to make this a successful community celebration to help us raise the funds we need and create a fun event for the whole Pride Academy family.

By Ms Dumenigo

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Last year, we worked with parents and students on defining EFFORT and we spoke about RESILIENCE and student capacity to stay determined and not give up because the work is hard or the answer to the problem is not immediate.

This year, we are working with students to track and use their assessment data to help them to set goals and create action plans for continued growth towards meeting their goals.

As a school community, we are now ready to talk about levels of HIGH EFFORT and PERSISTENCE, ideas that are captured in the word, GRIT.

During one of our Professional Development workshops last month, Steve Barkley, a master teacher consultant who has been working with us at Pride for the past 3 years, shared some important ideas that will help to propel our push for higher levels of student achievement and the development of our students as independent critical thinkers.

Mr. Barkley shared the work of an author, Martin Seligman, who writes in his book, “Flourish” , about the importance of self-discipline in academic success. He states that the “ultimate self-discipline character is GRIT… the never-yielding form of self- discipline, an extreme persistence that produces very high effort….

The more GRIT you have, the more time you spend on the task, and all those hours don’t just add to whatever innate skill you have: they multiply your progress to the goal.”(Seligman, 2011).

Mr. Barkley challenged us as teachers and leaders to think about what we need to do to increase student self–discipline and build GRIT:

  • What kind of self–discipline will create the student achievement that we seek?
  • What changes do we need to make in the rigor of our teaching to move students from “just doing what is necessary to pass or complete the assignment, or get an “A” to students setting goals and practicing identifying and committing to “what it takes to achieve it”. (Barkley 2012)
Ms Cenac’s recent DREAM HOUSE exhibition of students’ higher order thinking skills in science and the results of our math department’s X-FACTOR program highlighted in our February newsletter show how powerful this kind of teaching and learning can be.

We are excited about this next step in our thinking and action as a school community and we would like to invite parents and community members to join us as we begin our focus. We need you more than ever as partners in our continual evolution as a high performing school. We need your help to identify family and community actions that will support our mutual work in ensuring that our students continue to build their skills as powerful thinkers and problem solvers.

Please  reach out to Mrs. Thomas, Ms Dumenigo or Ms Cenac if you are interested in sharing your ideas and time to work on our GRIT Initiative.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pride Parent Party!

On Thursday, September 29th, Pride Academy held its first Parent Party and it was a huge success with over 80 parents in attendance. The goal of Pride Parties is to give parents an opportunity to spend time with their children, learning and growing together.

The theme of our first Pride Party was a "Celebration of Gifts". We focused on Rev. Jesse Jackson's quote, "Your children want your presence more than they want your presents." This quote clearly reminds us all how valuable it is for parents to be present and involved in the lives of their children, especially when it comes to education.
Together with their children, our 80 Pride Academy Parents participated in a team competition which required them to come up with positive activities to do with their families that started with the letter "P". Families later made a commitment to participate in at least two activities that supported the academic goals of their children. There were twelve activities offered, which ranged from signing up for parenting workshops to attending free African Dance Classes.

We look forward to many more fun and educational Parent Parties in the future as we continue to develop more opportunities for parent involvement at Pride Academy.

by Rose Mary Dumenigo

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pride Lions Roar into Flag Football Action!

Pride Academy Charter School is excited to announce its newest addition to their athletic program for the 2011/2012 school year. On Saturday October 1st the Pride Lions began their inaugural Flag Football season versus Jersey City Community Charter School. Prior to their first game, Pride Academy hosted a pep rally in the newly renovated Common Room on Friday, September 30th.

The festivities began with an enthusiastic introduction from Pride Academy’s own Mr. Dunn. Over 200 Pride scholars were present to show their support for the Lions by cheering “Pride Academy, come on let’s hear it! 1-2-3, we have spirit!” First, the eight junior varsity players were introduced followed by the twenty varsity players. The varsity players received their numbers and were presented with their team jerseys. The team stood together wearing their new jerseys with pride, and the school’s excitement could be felt throughout the room.

The team practices on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Elmwood Park in East Orange. Head Coach is Mr. Altamirano, Assistant Coaches are Mr. Geiger and Mr. Wilson, and Skills Coach is Mr. Dunn. Both the faculty leaders and the student athletes are looking forward to a fun and successful season!

By: Mr. Evan Geiger