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Where Are They Now: Catching Up with PAVE Alumni

Tysean, PAVE Class of 2018, Freshman at Deerfield Academy
Tysean attended PAVE from Kindergarten to 8th grade, but he’s already feeling right at home at his new school Deerfield Academy. “I knew almost every ninth grader’s name the first week,” he says. Tysean especially loves drawing in his studio art class, learning Spanish, and discussing the school’s summer reading book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. “I felt really prepared for Deerfield because the PAVE teachers were demanding and pushed my thinking. Both here and at PAVE, the teachers really draw you out in class and are very interactive.”

Camille, PAVE Class of 2017, Sophomore at Concord Academy
Last spring, Camille traveled to China for two weeks with a student group from Concord Academy. “I learned to barter, strike up a conversation with a foreigner, and make my way around by myself,” says Camille. “The most interesting part of the trip was when we went into people’s homes and learned about their different life experiences.” Camille, who also participates in the school’s engineering club and theater program, thanks PAVE for equipping her to take on a wide range of academic challenges. “PAVE taught me discipline, and I learned to manage my time. Now I just view school as challenging my brain muscles.”

Lizbeth, PAVE Class of 2016, Junior at Millennium High School
“PAVE taught me how to be a leader,” says Lizbeth. “Even if the road gets tough, you have to keep trying.” Lizbeth’s perseverance is evident both in and outside the classroom. Accepted to Brooklyn Center Stage’s competitive dance team, she now dances more than two hours a day after school. Last year, she took psychology and sociology classes at Brooklyn College and gave back to the community with a summer internship at Catholic Charities. “With the support PAVE gave me, I learned that if you approach challenges with excitement and the willingness to try, you can do great things.”

Stronger Retention, Stronger Outcomes

This year, more than 77% of PAVE Elementary School staff, and 100% of PAVE Elementary and Middle School Leadership Teams returned for the 2017/18 School Year. Here, two veteran faculty members share why they love working at PAVE.

Interview with Asheka James, 18-19 Academic Dean

How would you describe the community of teachers?

“It is a really tight-knit group. My fellow teachers are more than just coworkers. They are true friends. We give each other shout-outs through the day and formally in writing every week. We know how tough teaching is and every day can seem overwhelming. When you see a teacher doing a great job, you know how hard they are working. The culture of shout-outs lift the whole community.”

What is your favorite subject to teach?

“I love to teach math because I become a facilitator through the investigatory and hands-on work the students do. My favorite part is watching the discourse. Kids will ask each other, “Why did you decide to add 10?” when trying to solve a problem. It becomes a classroom of everybody teaching each other.”

How have you grown as a teacher?

“I get to go to wonderful professional development — especially “Math in the City.” It has really taken my teaching to a different level. I was empowered to learn and PAVE empowered me to share what I learned with my colleagues. It’s made me more of a leader.”

PAVE Scholar Prepares for Freshman Year at Stuyvesant High School

This year, only 33 Hispanic students got into Stuyvesant, New York’s most selective public high school, out of 895 spots. PAVE’s Mary Aragon is one of them. 

Why do you want to go to Stuyvesant?

When I was researching different high schools, I saw how well the students at Stuyvesant did. 97% of students go to college. I decided to set it as a goal to get in. 

How did you prepare for the Specialized High School Admissions Test?

I attended bi-weekly test prep classes, led by two PAVE teachers after school. If I had any questions, I would ask and I felt very supported. On a high school tour, we were given two practice tests. I took them and then studied the questions I had missed to understand what had gone wrong.

What drives you to work so hard?

I am driven by the way society looks immigrants and people of color in general. I want to prove myself, my family and my country, Mexico. 

What is your favorite subject? 

My passion is math and at PAVE, the teachers have helped me pursue it. For example, while other students were studying the regular math curriculum, my 6th grade math teacher Ms. Callahan would always would show me more advanced concepts. I was able to be pushed.

What do you love about PAVE?

I love being friends with students from all different backgrounds and the diverse community. I am also grateful for my teachers. 

Why I Teach at PAVE

Interview with Harold Turner, Middle School Dean of Humanities

Why work at PAVE?

“I love the intimate feel at PAVE and the flexibility. We can meet individual challenges and be nimble about solutions. At PAVE, the kids are incredibly dynamic and have so much to offer. The potential here is amazing. And Red Hook is a small and unique community. Communication looks different here than it does in other big urban schools because everyone knows each other, is somehow connected and they are looking out for each other.”

What do you love about your work?

“I love coaching people and working with them on problem solving. If there is text that is confusing to kids or teachers have trouble analyzing content, I really like sitting down and troubleshooting. I like having a bird’s-eye view of the school culture, content and instruction. I get excited thinking about what we can do as a school to solve problems.”

What makes the Middle School leadership team special?

“We all have common vision. We have an end goal: that students be the best they can. We are also straight up with each other and can have tough conversations. We can authentically celebrate and also push back on each other. We all understand it’s coming from the same place — how best to serve the kids. At the end of the day, we are fundamentally about service to the students.”

What are you most proud of at PAVE?

“Last year, I designed and wrote a 25-page document on our independent reading program. It shows every teacher the purpose of independent reading and what it should look like down to the smallest detail. It is really actionable and practical. It was a passion project.”

How do you push yourself to grow?

“I am currently enrolled in a specialized Masters Degree program at Teacher’s College on Curriculum and Teaching Leadership.”

Courage Is Contagious

Two PAVE Red Hook alumnae, Laura Camacho and Adasendis De La Cruz, will be published in a collection of letters to Michelle Obama called Courage is Contagious. The book features letters from authors such as Gloria Steinem, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alice Waters, and essays from two of our recent graduates. We are so proud of Laura and Adasendis, and love seeing PAVE scholars in print!


Laura and Adasendis started at PAVE RH in lower elementary and truly embody the core values of perseverance and achievement that we hold so dear. Laura is now a freshman at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School and Adasendis is enrolled at Benjamin Banneker Academy. Their letters were identified by Nick Haramis, the editor of Courage is Contagious, as the voice of young women to be included that showcased courage and overcoming all odds.


The book is being published by Penguin Random House and will hit shelves at all major and indie retailers on October 24, 2017. Click here to pre-order and learn more!

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