DYCD Commissioner Visits After-School Program at Bronx School

Students practice their hip-hop moves at Pelham Preparatory Academy for their upcoming talent show.

Students practice their hip-hop moves at Pelham Preparatory Academy for their upcoming talent show.

BRONX, N.Y.— Jeanne B. Mullgrav, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), visited the Pelham Preparatory Academy December 14 to witness firsthand how an after-school program started by Lehman College is impacting Bronx high school students.

The Transition to High School program, funded under DYCD’s Out-of-School Time initiative, is based at the school, located on the Christopher Columbus Campus, and is helping 80 freshmen stay on track for college. Mike Dogan, director of DYCD’s Out-of-School Time programs, was also on hand to see the students in action.

“These are students we want to track throughout their high school career to prepare them for college,” says Traci Palmieri, director of the after-school program, who works in the Center for School/College Collaboratives at Lehman College.

Students attend the program after school, Monday through Thursday, for two-and-a-half hours a day, taking part in Homework Help, where they work with tutors in subjects such as math and science. They also get advice from a pair of counselor/advocates about adjusting to high school, preparing for college and other issues. By maintaining good grades and a serious approach to their academics, students can earn extra credit toward their high school diplomas.

About a dozen students also attend twice-a-week Hip-Hop classes, where they work on moves they will demonstrate at the high school’s talent show in February.

“When they called me and told me about the program, the first thing I said was, ‘Where do I sign up?’” said Jane Aronoff, principal of the Pelham Preparatory Academy. “I absolutely love this program because it’s helping my students.”

Last spring, Dr. Anne L. Rothstein, founding director of the Center for School/College Collaboratives, wrote the proposal for the program, which was subsequently funded for two years (2010-2012) at $101,250 per year. There is also a three-year renewable option based on performance.

The program actually began over the summer. For four weeks in July, 65 incoming high school freshmen attended a bridge program at Preparatory Academy, where they had the opportunity to earn up to three high school credits. This fall, they came to Lehman College each Saturday for all-day classes. Besides enjoying a free breakfast and lunch, students took courses in personal finance, public speaking and nutrition. The goal of the DYCD program is 100 percent promotion of program participants to tenth grade.

“The Transition to High School program is unique because it focuses on individual progress and academic achievement, and includes a role for a counselor/advocate,” said Commissioner Mullgrav. “Early results show that this program, which targets freshmen— who are shown in national research to be at the greatest risk for dropping out—and with its cohort structure, is working. We are seeing grade promotion and credit accumulation at higher rates for program participants than their peers at the same school.”

Media Contact: Joseph Tirella/718-960-5746