A GEM ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE

April 25, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Their Lower East Side neighborhood is considered less than stellar by some standards, but that doesn’t mean the students there can’t chase and achieve their dreams. As a part of our multi-platform public media initiative, “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America,” we meet the incredible people of the Cornelia Connelly Center.

CtD-Logo2


Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Aired on April 25, 2018.

Transcript Print

>>> A DISTRESSING STATISTIC ON
THE STATE OF NEW YORK CITY
SCHOOLS.
ONLY 61% OF STUDENTS RECEIVE
HIGH SCHOOL DEGREES.
BUT ONE PRIVATE INSTITUTION THAT
AIMS TO HELP YOUNG
UNDERPRIVILEGED GIRLS BOASTS A
STUNNING 97%.
THAT'S 97% GRADUATION RATE.
AS PART OF OF THE ONGOING
MULTIPLATFORM PUBLIC MEDIA
REPORTING INITIATIVE, CHASING
THE DREAM, POVERTY AND
OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, WE
EXPLORE TODAY THE CORONELLIA
CONNOLLY CENTER AN ALL GIRL
SCHOOL IN EAST MANHATTAN.
IT FRP CAN CHS GIRLS AT RISK
EMPOWERING THEM TO REALIZE
POTENTIAL FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL
THROUGH COLLEGE AND BEYOND.
THE CENTER TEACHES GRADES 4
THROUGH 8.
BUT DOESN'T STOP THERE.
THEY GO ON TO ATTEND PRESTIGIOUS
HIGH SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES.
AND THEY ARE CELEBRATING 25
YEARS OF SUCCESS.
>> HERE IS IS THE DIRECTOR.
AND ALL A 6th GRADE STUDENTS AND
AN ALAN ALUM NIGH.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING US.
>> SO NICE TO HAVE YOU.
I WAS THERE AND VISITED A COUPLE
OF WEEKS AGO.
IT'S A MARVELLOUS PLACE.
THE FEEL, THE SENSE I GOT OF THE
STUDENTS PAN HOW THEY GOT ALONG
SO MARVELLOUSLY WITH EACH OTHER
AND THE TEACHERS.
IT TO ME WAS JAW-DROPPING.
AND THE NUMBERS I CAN UNDERSTAND
AFTER HAVING SEEN THAT.
I GOT A SENSE IN SORT OF
WARNEDING THE HALLWAYS AND
WATCHING YOU THERE.
THAT YOU FELT THIS WAS MORE THAN
JUST A SCHOOL FOR YOU.
>> YES.
>> IS THAT.
>> LIKE A SECOND HOME.
>> YES.
>> I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE
SOMETIMES.
AND THEN THEY'RE JUST LIKE YOU
HAVE TO GO HOME.
I'M LIKE, REALLY DO I HAVE TO.
>> HOW MANY PEOPLE DO PEOPLE SAY
I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE SCHOOL.
THEY DON'T SAY THAT A LOT BUT
YOU DO.
>> BUT JESS YOU GIVE US A GREAT
SPAN OF HAVING GONE THERE.
>> RIGHT.
>> GRADUATED FROM EIGHTH GRADE,
HIGH SCHOOL.
>> YES.
>> GRADUATED FROM HOLY CROSS
LAST YEAR.
>> YES.
>> MARVELLOUS SCHOOL.
LET ME ASK YOU THE SAME QUESTION
I ASKED EARLIER.
.
WHEN YOU FIRST SHOWED UP THERE
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT.
>> I THOUGHT IT WAS A SECOND
HOME.
I FELT THAT EVERY PERSON AT THE
SCHOOL WANTED TO GET TO KNOW YOU
ON A PERSONAL LEVEL.
AND THE FIRST TIME WE HAD THE
ASSEMBLY WHEN WE DEBT TOGETHER
AND TAKE ATTENDANCE AND
ANNOUNCEMENTS, THE FACT THAT
EVERY STAFF MEMBER KNEW YOUR
NAME AND MENTION YOUR NAME IN
THE MORNING TO THE POINT WHERE
IF I WAS MISSING PEOPLE WOULD
NOTICE, YOU KNOW.
THAT WAS INCREDIBLE TO ME.
>> WHAT IS THERE THEN IN
ADDITION TO THE COMFORT.
>> UM-HUM.
>> IN TERMS OF THE ACADEMICS
THAT ALLOW YOU TO BE SUCCESSFUL.
>> I THINK THEY PUSH US.
WHEN I WENT IN AS A FICHGT
GRADER I WASN'T PERFORMING ON
GRADE LEVEL.
I WOULD BE PULLED OUT OF CLASS
TO WORK ON READING, ON MY
WRITING.
AND TO ME THAT WAS THE FIRST
TIME THAT'S HAPPENED TO ME FOR
SOMEONE TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHERE THE
GAPS WERE IN MY EDUCATION AND
MEET WITH MY PARENTS AND TELL
THEM THIS IS WHERE JENNA IS
STRUGGLING.
AND WE'LL HELP THEY ARE.
THAT WAS FIFTH DRAD.
BY THE TIME I-IN EIGHTH GRADE
AND THEY'RE PUSHING ME TO WORK
HARDER AND SEEING SOMETHING IN
ME I DIDN'T SEE AT THE TIME.
AND I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HAD YOU
HOW THE SCHOOL THE CENTERED AIMS
TO SEE THE FLAME IN EACH GIRL,
THE POTENTIAL IN EACH GIRL.
AND I SAY THAT THEY SAW THAT IN
ME.
I DIDN'T NECESSARILY -- IN
MIDDLE SCHOOL I DIDN'T SEE
MYSELF SAYING I-GRADUATING FROM
HOLY CROSS.
OR EVEN COLLEGE WASN'T A THING
NECESSARILY.
THEY'D TELL US YOU'RE GRADUATING
FROM COLLEGE AND DO AMAZING
THINGS.
>> I'M LIKE SURE.
>> BUT ANY SAW IT.
>> THEY DID.
AND THEY PUSHED US.
AND THAT MEANS IN HIGH SCHOOL
TOO WHEN I COME BACK AND ASK ME
HOW IS SCHOOL GOING?
WHERE ARE YOU STRUGGLING.
>> YOU'RE HAVING A HARD TIME IN
PHYSICS LETSD GET YOU A TUTOR.
>> KAROLYN LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT
THE NOTION OF FOLLOWING THROUGH.
IT'S HARD ENOUGH ON ITS OWN TO
TAKE STUDENTS AND GET THEM
THROUGH FOURTH GRADE TO EIGHTH
GRADE.
TO THEN SAY WE'RE ALSO GOING TO
COMMIT TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND
SUPPORT FOR THEM NOT JUST
THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AS YOU SAID
NOT JUST THROUGH COLLEGE.
BUT ALSO INTO LIVES AFTERWARDS.
AS AN INSTITUTION YOUR SIZE HOW
DO YOU DO THAT?
>> THE REALITY IS THAT WE'RE
SMALL BUT MIGHTY.
AND THE REASON WE CAN DO THIS
GOOD WORK AND FOLLOW THE GIRLS
IS THAT WE'RE SMALL.
AND I THINK -- FOR ME, THE NEXT
FIVE AND TEN YEARS REALLY NEED
TO BE OTHER PEOPLE NEED TO COME
IN AND SEE THIS MODEL BECAUSE IT
WORKS.
BUT THE KEY IS SMALL AND
PERSONAL.
>> MARLEA LET ME COME BACK TO
YOU.
IF YOU HAVE FRIENDS NOT PART OF
THIS SCHOOL, RIGHT, AND THEY SAY
TO YOU, YOUR SCHOOL SOUNDS
INTERESTING.
IT SOUNDS VERY DIFFERENT.
WHAT'S IT LIKE WHERE YOU GO?
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THAT
QUESTION TO THEM.
>> I HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO
SAY THAT TO ME.
YOU HAVE A BETTER SCHOOL THAN I
DO.
I'M LIKE YOU A THANKS.
AND THEY'RE LIKE THE THING IS MY
SCHOOL IS VERY DIFFERENT.
WE HAVE TEACHERS WHO CARE AND WE
HAVE HELP AND GUIDANCE
THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE YEAR.
AND I JUST THINK THE FACT THAT I
GET TO COME IN EARLY AT 7:30 IN
THE MORNING TO GET EXTRA HELP IN
MATH AND THE TEACHERS ARE THERE
JUST TO HELP ME AND IT'S JUST
LIKE AN EXCELLENT THING FOR
MY -- FOR MY GRADES.
>> YOU FIND YOU HAVE ALL THE
OPPORTUNITIES THAT YOU WANT TO
HAVE IN THIS SCHOOL?
>> YES.
I FEEL LIKE -- WE HAVE AN
AMBIENCE UNCLES.
IT'S LIKE EXTRA GUIDANCE IN WHAT
HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE I WANT
TO GO TO.
THE CLASS HELPS ME GET TO KNOW
MYSELF BETTER AND TELL OTHER
SCHOOLS ABOUT MYSELF.
>> LOOKING BACK WOULD YOU HAVE
GRADUATED FROM HOLY CROSS IF YOU
HADN'T BEEN AT THIS SCHOOL.
>> ABSOLUTELY NOT I HADN'T HEARD
OF COLLEGE OF HOLY CROSS UNTIL I
WENT TO CCC.
IN SEVENTH GRADE THEY TOOK US ON
A COLLEGE TRIP AND I REMEMBER
SAYING IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL I'M
GOING TO DO SCHOOL THERE.
MY MOM WAS LIKE THAT'S SO SWEET.
BUT I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS
APPLYING TO COLLEGES, I SAID
THAT COLLEGE STOOD OUT TO ME AND
I WANT TO GO THERE.
I WANT TO LIVE THAT MISSION.
AND I DO NOT THINK THAT I WOULD
HAVE GONE THERE IF IT WEREN'T
FOR CCC.
>> WELL, I TELL YOU AGAIN HAVE
BEEN VISITED FOR A LITTLE BIT OF
TIME I SAW THE JOE, THE
EXPECTATIONS, I SAW THE
ACCOMPLISHMENTS CERTAINLY SEE IT
IN ALL OF YOU.
YOU SHOULD BE CONGRATULATED AND
STAFF AND EVERYBODY WHO WORKS
THERE AND WE'LL SEE WONDERFUL
THINGS YOU ARE JUST AS WE'RE
SEEING WONDERFUL THINGS FROM
HER.
CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU AND GOOD
LUCK TO YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR SPEND BEING TIME WITH YOU.
>> THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU.
>> AND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW
YOU CAN HELP THE CENTER GO TO
OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, and Judy and Josh Weston.

WNET

© 2018 WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019