Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA) has reached the final stage of XQ: The Super School Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2016
More information contact:
Jamaal A. Bowman 646-248-1931 jamaalabowman@gmail.com

Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA) has reached the final stage of XQ: The Super School Project

Bronx, NY – On May 23rd, finalist Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA) High School of the Bronx submitted their final application to XQ: The Super School Project, a national challenge to rethink, reimagine, and redesign the high school experience. After thousands of ideas were submitted in early September, Cornerstone remains one of the few teams still standing. In mid-July the final five concepts will be selected to have their designs realized. If CASA High School’s design is selected as one of the winning proposals, they will receive a whopping $10 million dollars over the next five years to build their Super School.

“The time has come to reimagine, rethink, and redesign our schools to cultivate the innate brilliance of every child. The XQ: Super School Project launch in September 2015 provided an amazing opportunity for us to do just that. We have learned so much throughout the process and one thing is perfectly clear, we have the technology, human capital, and resources, to create exhilarating learning environments that meet the needs of every child. Most importantly, students want this badly,” said Jamaal Bowman, School Principal, Parent and XQ Team Member

“The Cornerstone Academy’s participation in the “super school” project is truly an exciting opportunity for our Bronx Community. As a longstanding supporter of a holistic approach to education, I believe they have what it takes to bring a fresh and transformative energy to our public education system and pursue new avenues to bring out the best and brightest in all our students,” said Carl Heastie, Speaker, New York State Assembly

New York’s students deserve schools that support not only their intellectual and academic needs, but also their social and emotional development. The Cornerstone Academy for Social Action High School promises to provide that kind of well-rounded education to its students. I am thrilled at the prospect of a new and exciting educational opportunity for children in the Bronx,” said Betty A. Rosa, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents

“As PTA president of Casa Middle School and a proud mother of four children in public schools, I am honored to be a part of the XQ: Super School Project. Our concept can be a pathway toward synthesizing timeless concepts of the mind, with contemporary ideas, to create new models of education. I have never been a part of such a great team, and we are excited about continuing to build whole child learning environments. This will be an amazing opportunity that will allow us to tap into the cultural genius of our community,” said Charlena Walker, PTA President, CASA Middle School, XQ Team Member

“I am elated that CASA High School has made it to the final round of the XQ: Super School Project. We know that our concept will truly bring out the best in our youth. With teachers trained in 21st century whole child pedagogy, and an environment that nurtures the mind and soul, our concept is unique and will prepare our children to rise above any adversity for the rest of their lives,” said Maria Johnson, Parent, XQ Team Member

Student leaders from CASA Middle School were heavily involved in developing the concepts of CASA High School. Student voice and ideas matter most and the entire process truly entailed collaboration between students, educators, and the extended community.

“I am thrilled to participate in the XQ: Super School Project because I enjoy being an active member of my community. I also feel that segregation in public schools is a detriment to the learning of all children and the development of our democracy. That is why our concept presents a high school experience that brings together students of different cultural and economic backgrounds. I am excited to be a part of designing a school that teaches holistic and real life skills instead of teaching only literature and mathematics,” said Yokaira Conception, 8th Grade Student, XQ Team Member

“The XQ challenge has been exciting for me because it has given me the opportunity to have input into designing a school that will help students grow into adults with a passion to change the world. This journey has been amazing and the conversations with my peers, community, and other XQ Team Members have been really eye-opening,” said Dana Neil, 8th grade Student, XQ Team Member.

The XQ: Super School Project has been an inspiring experience. To be a part of creating something that’s bigger than I am, and will benefit others, is truly something I will carry with me for the rest of my life, said Leanne Nunez 8th Grade Student, XQ Team Member

The CASA High School planning team has worked over the last 8 months to reach out to students, educators, elected officials, corporations, and citizens from all over the globe to gain a better understanding of community needs, and to learn innovative approaches to maximizing student potential and ignite a joy for learning.. Throughout this process, the team has learned that there is a yearning for new ideas and new approaches to college, career, and life readiness. During interviews, many community members reflected on their school experiences as being “unfulfilling” and not conducive to nurturing their full potential. High school students who were interviewed shared frustrations around “inauthentic content and learning experiences” that were too abstract without practical applications. Many young adults talked about being “uninspired to enroll in college” because of their experiences in mundane compliance-based high school learning environments. All stakeholders shared great hands on learning ideas and advocated a collaborative problem based curriculum to help enhance contemporary learning environments.

One amazing partnership that developed over the past 8 months was a public private school partnership between Cornerstone Academy and Avenues: The World School.

“It has been a personal and professional honor for our d4i team to partner with CASA High School for the XQ: Super School Project. We are excited to continue the collaboration around 21st century community schooling that includes real-world problem solving and public private partnerships that engage the community in authentic impact work. CASA High School would be a shining, grass-roots example of both how community school can work, and more importantly, how public and private schools can collaborate to accelerate learning in the 21nd century,” said Ivan Cestero, d4i coach, Social Innovation Teacher, Avenues: The World School, XQ Team Member

“I helped found d4i with a vision of implementing more design driven social impact work into K-12 education. CASA, more than any school I know, has embodied these principles. Their work with D4i during the Design Challenge has been spectacular. The idea of CASA being awarded this crucial funding is extremely exciting to our team. Such funding would allow education to morph into a place for students to grow into entrepreneurs and innovators with real work skills,” said Conner Wise, 11th Grade Student, Avenues: The World School

Additional high-ranking officials in public office share the excitement around bringing a Super School to the Bronx!

“The Bronx is on the precipice of innovation through this opportunity that will develop an education environment for students to create, challenge and experience high school differently. Since its inception, the Cornerstone Academy, under the leadership of the Founder and Principal Jamaal Bowman, has been at the forefront of innovation and change and is a much sought after school for students all over the borough. The participation in the XQ: The Super School Project will create a life changing experience for the students and families, and I wish them good luck in this endeavor,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“Project XQ presents an exciting opportunity for the CASA team to reimagine high school through a process that includes community collaboration and student voice while also engaging educators, elected officials and corporations as we think together about how to ensure our students are prepared for the 21st century. Ensuring that innovation and design are critical elements that the school will use to engage students in a learning process geared toward social action will ensure students leave committed to being world changers. I am excited about reimagining learning and bringing innovation to the Bronx through Principal Bowman and the CASA XQ team,” said Meisha Ross Porter, Superintendent, Community School District 11

“As a supporter of innovation in our public schools, I firmly stand behind the vision of the CASA High School XQ team and believe if given the opportunity, it will be transformative for our Bronx students. We must do more than simply instruct our children in classrooms. We must look to educate the whole child and support their families and the entire community with the same effort,” said Jamaal Bailey, Parent, District Leader for the 83rd Assembly District

“I’m proud to join the Northeast Bronx community in its excitement for the creation of Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (C.A.S.A.) High School with programs that would nurture leadership and career mindedness beyond the classroom as part of the wraparound services of a “Super School,” said New York City Council Member Andy King, whose 12th District includes C.A.S.A. Middle School. “Schools are the major cornerstones of our communities and this plan will ensure that excellence and mastery are promoted in the lives of the young scholars who attend C.A.S.A. High School. I commend Principal Jamaal Bowman and his XQ team for their efforts to want to bring about a ‘New Vision for High School.'”

The CASA High School team was formed through a collective passion for change, and a belief that by nurturing the inherent genius in every child, communities will reap the benefits for generations to come. Too often our school system does not work for all children, and for the children that succeed within this system; many are not being reared to reach their full potential. Iteration, design thinking, boundless expectations, and a bias toward social action continues to guide the CASA High School team toward its mission to graduate students ready, willing, and able to transform their communities. We are excited to continue to pursue this essential endeavor with all who serve the community. Educators have some amazing new ideas regarding how to make this vision a reality.

“It is time for schools to finally focus on learning above simple letter and numeric grades. Let’s go grade-less! It is wonderful to know that New York City is engaging in this discussion by means of our XQ: Super School Project team. All students deserve the opportunity to grow in an environment that values learning and progress over simple quantification. Whole child learning cannot be adequately communicated with only numbers or letters,” said Starr Sackstein, High School Teacher, XQ Team Member

We are excited about the continued opportunity that XQ affords us to develop schools that prepare our students for the thinking world. Being a part of XQ: The Super School Project has allowed us to envision new learning spaces where all students excel at their highest levels,” said Al McCutchen, Parent, Teacher, XQ Team Member

“I became a teacher with the goal of developing the whole child. The XQ: Super School Project has challenged me to tap into my experience using design thinking, Socratic seminars, and adult-child-community collaborations to reimagine high school. Through the XQ process, I see more than just the child becoming whole, I see the entire community being transformed, said Fatema Zohny, Humanities Teacher, XQ Team Member

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to reimagine high school for 21st century students. I am particularly excited to continue to work closely with students and their families in the design process. We educators can only do our best work by knowing our students deeply and working closely with the community,” said Al Sylvia, High School Assistant Principal, XQ Team Member

In a little more than a month, the CASA High School team will know if its dreams have been realized.

To learn more about the XQ: The Super School Project please visit http://www.xqsuperschool.org. You can also follow XQ @XQAmerica.

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