Linking academics, values and community to graduate articulate scholars and active citizens.
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Harlem. Connected.
Spring 2017

Linked Together

Harlem Link Charter School is all about connections. Connecting children with education and opportunity. Connecting parents with a supportive team of teachers and faculty. Connecting you to our school, to our rich Harlem community, and to the rest of the world. This newsletter captures the many links being created by our dedicated staff and network, connecting us and each other to our classes, our programs, and our events.
In education, growth is everything. Students grow, teachers grow, our practice is always improving. Every link, every connection makes us stronger, because each one helps our constant growth.
What’s In a Name?

Charter schools are have been a flashpoint in education, especially with our recent federal changes. But when all charter schools are so different, what does Harlem Link's Charter School status really mean?
Under New York state law, charters are independently run public schools contracted, or “chartered”, by local school districts, the State University of New York (SUNY) Charter Schools Institute, or the state Board of Regents. New York’s charters operate under five year contracts, and must meet exacting standardized testing metrics each year in order to qualify for renewal. In exchange for these standards, stricter than those faced by traditional public schools, charters enjoy greater independence. That’s why at Harlem Link we are free to handpick staff, create programs, and make other crucial decisions based on our students’ unique needs. We are not allowed to select our students, and we are in every sense a public school serving the community. The difference between our school and a district public school is that this charter contract gives us the autonomy to make mission-driven decisions in the critical areas noted above.

If a charter school fails--and many have closed during our 12 years of operation--there is no outside force or ready excuse for pointing fingers; it's all on our shoulders. In the end, Harlem Link is about offering our scholars and their families a creative connection to learning - thinking outside the box to transcend boundaries.

Testing the Waters of the ELA
The halls of Harlem Link were surprisingly quiet last week, as school was out for Presidents' Week, but students and staff were hard at work practicing for New York State’s English Language Arts test. Armed with the knowledge that “high scores open doors”, students rehearsed for their middle school placement exams and honed the standardized testing skills they’ll need to succeed throughout their education. Harlem Link’s staff pulled out all the stops, some even staying late to sharpen pencils so the students had every tool necessary, and in the end it was worth it. Our scholars shone their brightest, achieving exemplary scores on the practice test and building confidence for the real thing in March. We’d wish them luck, but with their skills, luck doesn’t have much to do with it!

Middle School Interviews - From Start to Finish
Our fifth graders leave us next year - but most will land in under-performing neighborhood schools unless they interview to gain entrance to a better public middle school. Those interviews can be a daunting prospect, but it’s crucial that our scholars ace them. Just as a supportive and rigorous elementary experience leads to middle school success, a high quality middle school education is key to future achievement in high school and college. Luckily, Harlem Link’s students have Mrs. Van Auken and her team in their corner. Through this process, our history has been that our students attend some of the most competitive middle schools on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
From October 26 to Jan 20, small groups of fifth graders met weekly during lunch and recess. In each session, volunteers from across Harlem Link’s staff and wider community worked with them to prepare for the interviews ahead. Many students began the process with no idea that they’d need to interview for middle school admission, let alone what to do in the interview once there. But through weekly lessons on public speaking, articulating goals, body language, and dealing with nerves, they became seasoned professionals. By the end, students were shaking hands and introducing themselves confidently, answering questions like “what are you passionate about?” thoughtfully and with specific schools in mind. Their next stop: interviews with some of the top middle schools in the city.
We are grateful to all the staff and community members who provided interview coaching: Aviva Buechler, Dan Steinberg, Ramelle Brown, Steve Evangelista, Andrew Group, Valerie Babb, Eugene Campbell, Josh Breidbart, Marianne Van Auken, Chrisann Goad, Susan Heath, Kathleen Whitehead, Daniel Gilland, Matt and Meggie Belisle. Their work was made possible by Harlem Link’s Start to Finish initiative, which focuses on supporting education from birth through middle and high school placement, all the way to college through our involved alumni network. (In fact, we’ve just heard from our first alumni to be accepted to college. Congrats!)
Start to Finish’s next event is our 2nd annual 11th grade reunion the evening of March 9. To join us, or for more information on Start to Finish, please reach out to
In Memory of John Wyeth
We are saddened that John Wyeth, who has been with us since 2007, passed away on Wednesday, December 7. He was one of the kindest, funniest and most sincere people on the planet, always putting the children of Harlem Link first. His talent for writing and music brought joy to all, and wherever he went, he carried with him compassion, wisdom, and the gift of song. He is survived by his wife of 24 years, Deirdre, and his daughter May.
If you’d like to offer your sympathies or support to the Wyeth family, please visit for more information.
After All Spotlight – Code Dependent
After All, Harlem Link’s after school program, prides itself on continuing the evolution of our students into articulate, thoughtful, and active citizens through a variety of programs including gardening, art, and even robot building. But there’s one new program at After All that has everyone’s attention lately: coding.
With the help of programs offered by “Hour of Code”, a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, After All’s students explore variety of tools and prompts that allow them to create games that they can eventually play. Utilizing characters from popular properties such as Frozen, Minecraft, and even Star Wars, the learning process itself becomes a game in which creativity and participation are constantly rewarded. Classes like these and more are how After All’s programs create a foundation that will grow our future Harlem Link alumni into successful scholars.
For more information, head on over to

Black History Month Celebration
Black History Month, a celebration of the achievements of African Americans throughout US history, took over Harlem Link this February. Art lined the halls, with portraits dedicated to important figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama.
Capping off the month of celebration was Harlem Link’s Black History Month event, planned by the After All team. Originally scheduled for February 9th, the event was to pay tribute to recently retired New York State Assembly member Keith Wright. A leader in both the African American community and New York's political scene, Keith is a true role model for our scholars. Vaulting from academic excellence to a storied career in city and state government, his story is one that demonstrates all that is possible for our students. However, thanks to our first snow day of the 2016-17 academic year, the event was postponed. Details of the new date will arrive soon, so look forward to it.

Recently, a school wide initiative to encourage art brought every teacher and faculty member in front of construction paper and markers. In an effort to inspire our student’s own self portraits, the staff put their Monet where their mouth was, bringing their own artful avatars to life. A big shout out to the team for some exceptionally creative pieces.
Inspiration. It’s contagious at Harlem Link.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

A few of our articulate scholars demonstrating some A+ problem solving by working together.
The Napkin
It’s part of our Start to Finish initiative, and part of our mission, to stay involved in our alumni’s lives. Last year, we reconnected with some of our very first students at our first annual 11th Grade Reunion dinner. And one of them looked at a cloth napkin and asked permission to use it. She’d never seen one before. Six years after she graduated, we are still opening her eyes to new experiences.
Another, much younger alumna enrolled in our school in second grade reading at a kindergarten level. While others were reading chapter books, she was still figuring out letter sounds. Now in middle school, she came back for a visit to let us know that she’s reading as well as any of her classmates, all because of her time at Harlem Link. She said tearfully, "I don't know where I'd be without you."
These stories are not isolated ones, but we still see the need to grow and improve. Even now, I hear our step squad practicing and performing with the presence and confidence of a college team. Our young leaders are working hard for a better future, Harlem Link will always be there to support every student that walks our hallways. We want to be there both within and outside of the walls of the class. But as a nonprofit and public institution, Harlem Link depends on donations to cover critical expenses such as curriculum development consultants, field trips, extracurricular activities, community partnership expenses. And it goes to our kids. To present opportunities that would otherwise be lost.
At the end of the reunion dinner, as our student said goodbye, she asked “What’s next?” For eleven years she has been counting on us to set the milestones in her academic career. What’s next is we keep going. For more information about how to get involved, sign up at and donate at
The Ink Has Made Its Mark
Thank you all for joining us. We look forward to telling you more about all the exciting things we’re doing, but this doesn’t have to be the end. Connect with us, and get involved in all the great things happening at Harlem Link Charter School.
It just wouldn’t be the same without you.

Steve Evangelista
Founder and Principal
John Wyeth
Play us out, John.
Copyright © 2017 Harlem Link, All rights reserved.

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Harlem Link
21 W. 111th St
New York, Ny 10026

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