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Harlem School Opens Branch in South Bronx in Time for 2015

By Eddie Small | August 19, 2015 5:47pm
 Storefront Academy South Bronx will hold a ribbon cutting to celebrate its opening on Sept. 8 at 8 a.m.
Storefront Academy South Bronx will hold a ribbon cutting to celebrate its opening on Sept. 8 at 8 a.m.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MOTT HAVEN — A 50-year-old Harlem school will bring its education model to the South Bronx starting this fall.

The public charter school Storefront Academy South Bronx will hold a ribbon cutting to celebrate its opening on Sept. 8 at 416 Willis Ave., where it will serve 100 students in kindergarten and first grade.

The official first day of school will be Sept. 9, but the ceremony will take place the day before because of how hectic that first day will be, according to Storefront Academy Executive Director Elisa Istueta.

Storefront Academy South Bronx will replicate the academic model of educating the whole child used at Storefront Academy Harlem, which award-winning poet Ned O'Gorman founded in 1966 as an after school center.

This philosophy means that the school does not focus solely on drills to help make sure that students pass tests but rather on making sure that they become well rounded people who enjoy learning, according to Istueta.

"Our whole child model means that all of our children get arts programming and music programming and physical education," she said, adding that they also have a social worker on staff to help deal with physical and emotional needs.

She maintained that this style of education would be a benefit to the South Bronx.

"We feel like The Bronx could really use our model," she said. "We feel like this is...a community that could still use the education that we provide."

Storefront Academy South Bronx plans to add a grade each year and serve 288 students in kindergarten through fifth grade by its fifth year.

The school day will last from 8:15 a.m. until 3:45 p.m., and staff will offer extended day and summer programming for students who are struggling.

Storefront Academy Harlem already has 30 percent of its students coming from The Bronx, which is one of the reasons why the school wanted to open its second location in the borough.

"We are definitely serving a need in that borough that is not being filled," Istueta said. "When you look at Harlem and you look at how many schools are opening, The Bronx is still sort of lagging."

Storefront may decide to open more locations going forward, but officials would have to make sure that they would benefit the areas first, according to Istueta.

"There’s a possibility that we could consider opening another school, but it’s based on need," she said. "It’s not just about opening schools."