Nestled in a historic district of Brooklyn, New York, lies a K-5 independent public charter school quietly producing some of the city’s finest students. Imagine Me Leadership Charter School (IMLCS) brilliantly blends rigorous and exciting academics with a cultural program designed to inspire the community leaders of tomorrow. While many people associate single-sex schools with elite private schools in wealthy communities, IMLCS recreates the environment focusing strictly on developing educated young boys from urban communities and building the next generation of leaders. IMLCS adds to their community by providing a new public option for young boys to become responsible citizens and life-long learners. The single-sex model helps tear down gender norms allowing them to confidently face the challenges of a competitive world. Students at IMLCS develop a sense of self by gaining confidence and believing in their own potential.
When speaking with Executive Director Katherine Corbett and Principal Bevon Thompson they emphasized the enormous team effort that goes into running the school. Despite only teaching children from grades K-5, Principal Thompson teaches a biology class to his advanced students based on the state Regents exam (an exam that is typically taken in high school). Principal Thompson expressed the importance of administrators staying connected with the students and earning credibility with teachers. Their approach starts with working with the teachers to master the content before diving into the delivery and evaluation methods. Teaching only boys creates challenges, but they also see this as an opportunity. Their teaching methods incorporate more use of visuals and allow, whenever possible, for the boys to engage in the material physically. Principal Thompson explains that when a young boy taps his fingers or feet, this indicates his desire to stay focused not to distract others. Analyzing how boys learn and retain information, helps the school plan their lessons and develop a culture of success. Since 2013 when Thompson and Corbett started, IMLCS increased student proficiency rates in math by 47.3 percentage points and 56.2 percentage points in English. In both growth and proficiency, IMLCS soars over other district, city, and state schools.
James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, said
"Imagine Me Leadership Charter School is a unique all-boys model that serves one of Brooklyn's most high-needs neighborhoods, East New York. Since its inception, it has been intentional in creating equal educational opportunities for young men of color. The Charter Center commends Imagine Me Leadership on this work, and congratulates them for being recognized as a Reward School in New York State. This achievement and noted progress exemplifies the hard work done each day to raise the bar".
Executive Director Corbett emphasized closing learning gaps at lower grade levels as one of the most important ways in which IMLCS prepares their students for success. Teachers make sure students understand and possess the prerequisite knowledge for a given learning objective in order to prepare for success in years to come. The dedicated and inspired teachers and administers use data to track and guide their boys to success. The attention to detail and the focus on core competencies help make IMLCS one of the best elementary schools in the city. IMLCS truly embodies the quest for re-imagining leadership in public schools.