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Bronx Community Learning Schools vision dinner

Strategizing for success

Engaging in a discussion are (from left) Johnny Veloz, the chapter leader at theMiller PhotographyEngaging in a discussion are (from left) Johnny Veloz, the chapter leader at the International School For Liberal Arts; Wanda Torres, the program director of the UFT Community Learning Schools program; UFT Bronx High School District Representative Eliu Lara; Cutrone; and ISLA Principal Francine Cruz.

Sometimes it’s easier to solve problems when you collaborate. Four UFT community learning schools in the Bronx are doing just that. The Community Learning Schools Initiative welcomed 20 educators from the four schools to a collaborative vision dinner on Feb. 1 at the UFT’s Bronx borough office. The event brought together principals, chapter leaders, UFT district representatives and community school directors to foster collegial relationships and a discussion about the issues affecting student achievement in the Bronx. We’re all alike in “that we want healthy children and we want schools that are strong academically,” said Karen Alford, the UFT vice president for elementary schools. Alford said the borough-specific event was a great way for educators to share resources and learn from one another in an informal environment. Sandra Perez, the community school director at Bronx Writing Academy, said the idea to host a collaborative vision dinner was born when the four Bronx community school directors started meeting once a month to walk through their schools’ neighborhoods to better understand the needs of their communities. Under the guidance of Nick Cruz, the UFT’s Bronx parent liaison, the group began to brainstorm ways to work together more efficiently. “The more ideas you bounce off each other, the better,” said PS 14 Chapter Leader Fred Cassara. “That level of sharing and collaboration can breed success.” District 7 Representative Bill Woodruff said it was great to see educators share their successes as well as their struggles. “The solutions are in the room. It’s about having the time to sit down and figure out those solutions, and events like this allow for that to happen,” said Woodruff. The dinner was hosted by community school directors Frank Cutrone of the International School of Liberal Arts, Carly Ayala of PS 14, Mia Martinez of PS 18, and Perez.

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