MBK Develops Future Leaders...On Saturdays
In order to get 70 students to voluntarily spend six Saturdays in school, organizers of MBK’s Future Leaders Academy knew it had to be seriously fun.
The program for potentially at-risk young men is designed to empower them to learn leadership, real world skills, seed an interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) and, for some, begin to beat box like a pro.
Yonkers native Nick Flammia, a young musician and instructor at Yonkers Youth Theater Interaction, spends an hour with the students each Saturday, talking about the music industry and teaching them to learn vocal percussion or how to use their throats and mouths as drums and cymbals.
“They love it,” said Darryl Mack, Riverside High School’s Assistant Principal who oversees the Future Leaders Academy as well as his school’s MBK program.
Future Leaders Academy students (grades 7 – 11) from around the district gather at Roosevelt High School – Early College Studies on Saturdays from April through June from 9 am to 1pm. By design, they create bonds with MBK students, teachers and community visitors.
In the mornings, students eat breakfast together and dive into hands-on projects such as building solar-powered K’nex cars with Roosevelt High School teachers Gina Garcia-Alvarez and Rachel Mercandante. In other sessions, students prepare for PSAT tests with Laura Wilson, owner of Chappaqua-based WilsonPrep tutoring service. Some students take a one-credit introduction to statistics with instructors from the Bronxville-based Concordia College.
At noon, students spend an hour with empowerment speakers which have included Reverend Abdul Holmes from the Kingdom Culture Center who talked with students about the importance of making good life choices. Gregory Hambric, a Human Resources Manager at Modell’s Sporting Goods shared tips on how to dress and speak appropriately for job interviews and prepare resumes and job applications. Modell’s has since hired three students from the Academy.
YonkersMBK Facilitator Gregory Joyner reinforced the importance of setting goals and developing plans to meet them. He also spoke about how blessed the students are to be part of MBK and encouraged them to take advantage of opportunities presented to them.
Elaine Shine, Executive Director of School Improvement, said the Future Leaders Academy is structured to support three of YonkersMBK’s milestones. Milestone Three: Ensure all youth graduate from high school. Four: Ensure all youth complete post-secondary education or training. Milestone Five: Ensure all youth out of school are employed.
Ms. Shine also said fun was built into the program from the start. None of the teachers or organizers “wanted it to be like a normal school day.”
Future Leaders Academy Administrator-in-Charge: Riverside High School Assistant Principal Darryl Mack. Future Leaders Academy Staff: MBK Coordinator Gregory Joyner; Palisade Preparatory School teachers Carl Jenkins, Ibrahim Nasser and Secretary Camille Wieland; Riverside High School teachers Gregg Redmon, Lawton Huggins, and Lia Council; MLK Academy teacher Vincent Accardi; Lincoln High School teacher Kristina Nilaj and Guidance Counselor Zoe Charitos; Roosevelt High School teachers Melba Fawcett-Sands, Gina Garcia-Alvarez and Rachel Mercandante; Casimir Pulaski School teacher Kavita Sapra.