BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A Brooklyn charter school hopes to create global leaders with a proposed expansion that includes international travel for students and a neighborhood boarding school.
Teaching Firms of America-Professional Preparatory Charter School at 616 Quincy St., which currently serves children from kindergarten through fifth grade, is looking to grow its student population through high school, according to its leaders.
With the expansion, TFOA would become “Ember Charter Schools for Mindful Education, Innovation and Transformation,” according to Ember co-founders Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II and Alexandria Lee.
The expansion would merge the current school’s curriculum with that of The Anew School — a program where kids study abroad in Ghana in middle school and complete ninth through 12th grade at a boarding school at home.
TFOA shares its space with P.S. 308 near Lewis Avenue and the expanded school would be located at another undetermined site, the co-founders said.
“It’s an evolution of the school,” Id-Din said.
“It’s more like providing a private school-quality education to public school students who historically have gotten the worst public school resources and education in their community. That’s really what we set out to do.”
With the proposal for Ember Charter Schools, students would travel to West Africa in seventh and eighth grade, returning to Brooklyn for state exams.
Expenses would be paid for by the school, according to Id-Din.
When they continue high school in New York, they would have a residential, community-based boarding school option.
“You’re teaching kids to not just leave and never come back, but go and get this amazing international experience where you learn about culture and community and come home to become strong community leaders,” Lee said.
Currently, the school’s classes are co-ed, but the proposed expansion includes single-sex learning from seventh through twelfth grades, and high school would focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) careers and social entrepreneurship.
The boarding school, which is in its planning stages, would be located in Bed-Stuy and have a campus feel, the organizers added.
Proposals include affordable housing, retail, green space, a community pool, co-working spaces and residences for students.
“In all these ways we really want to incorporate the community that has always been here and be a real part of it,” Lee said.
Aligned with TFOA’s vision, the expanded school’s mission is to “transform, empower and ignite students who have traditionally been labeled ‘at-risk’ from historically underserved, under-resourced, low income communities,” according to a summary proposal.
The current school, which has up to 400 students and 38 teachers, focuses on social emotional development and has a “strong sense of self-love and identity,” Id-Din said.
“We are constantly in a battle for the heart and soul of our students as they’re exposed to the media images that try to tell them they’re somehow less than or not worthy,” he added.
“The evolution into Ember allows us to spend increasingly more and more time with students as they move up, help them be exposed to the world, live in a university-like setting, and beyond. This is a tremendous opportunity.”
The proposed travel portion would also help tackle problems kids see at home, Lee added, as children as young as fifth grade are confronted with the opportunity to join gangs.
“It gives children a chance to be children, going abroad especially at the most heavily recruited age gives them the chance to be away from really difficult decisions and just be children and learn,” she said.
“For some who haven’t even left their own city or state, to experience having a passport is so important for all these new opportunities and having a global perspective.”
The school looks to expand with sixth grade in the coming academic year, with additional grades each year.
The application will go before a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 16 at 616 Quincy St., and is being considered by the state’s Education Department.