Bronx Charter School Sending 96 Percent of Grads to College

BySelim Algar

Read the full article at New York Post >

For nearly a decade, KIPP NYC College Prep HS has been helping some of the city’s most disadvantaged kids face down steep odds.

The Bronx charter school will graduate 96 percent of its senior class Friday – and send 94 percent of the grads to college.

Founded in 2009, the school believes that it has refined an academic formula that can hoist students out of often bleak circumstances.

“As a school they just push college very hard,” said Sha’mar Dennison, 17, of Harlem.

The aspiring economist is one of 225 KIPP grads who are going on to pursue higher education. The network said 86 percent of the original freshman class stayed on through their senior year.

“Every day you’re reminded that you are doing this for a bigger purpose — to get to a place where you can have access to higher-paying jobs and access to a better lifestyle in general,” Dennison said.

KIPP NYC College Prep is comprised almost entirely of low-income minority kids — many of whom will be the first in their family to reach higher education.

The school will send grads across the nation to schools including Duke, Barnard, Georgetown and a host of CUNY and SUNY campuses.

Staffers credited the impressive metrics to an unrelenting focus on guidance counseling.

Senior Mia Miller said she was reliant on a counselor to help her navigate the alien terrain of collegiate preparation.

The process was made all the more challenging by Miller’s diabetic condition.

“There were times I felt defeated,” she said. “But if you have the right mind-set then you can tell yourself that you can get through anything and you keep going.”

Miller, 18, of Washington Heights, will attend Gettysburg College.

“There is an extreme amount of dedication here,” Mia said. “There are teachers who even if they were paid nothing they would still come and still teach because they genuinely care how our lives will turn out.”

Miller said KIPP’s main triumph was making kids confident in their ability to march into uncharted academic territory.

“I don’t feel like where a person comes from or what they grew up around should dictate who they become,” she said. ‘If you have your own mind — ¬regardless of what you see around you — you don’t have to be that.”

Former Deputy Mayor Richard Buery — a Stuyvesant HS and Harvard graduate — became KIPP’s public affairs and policy ¬director last year.

Despite the rancor between City Hall and the charter sector, Buery said he was hopeful for future harmony.

“The most challenging thing about this debate is that you’re talking about people who want the same thing,” he said. “The more we work on putting children first, the more opportunity to find common ground. I’m optimistic about collaboration.”