March 19, 2019
To All in the George Jackson Academy Family:
After careful study, George Jackson Academy has decided not to accept boys into the fourth grade for academic year 2019-2020. The decision reflects the desire of the Board of Trustees to sharpen GJA’s focus in a changing, challenging educational environment. Transitioning to a more traditional middle school model will allow George Jackson Academy to be increasingly competitive in recruiting students and faculty and in its fundraising efforts. This change affects only incoming fourth-grade students as new fifth- and sixth-graders will continue to be welcomed into the GJA community.
The decision follows a two-year process of study and analysis by the Head of School and the Board of Trustees, advised by a leading consulting firm, working in coordination with the Board’s education committee, chaired by Dorothy Hutcheson, Head of School Emerita of the Nightingale-Bamford School, and comprising Bro. Brian Carty, GJA Founder and President of De La Salle Academy; Andre Del Valle, head of school of GJA; David O’Halloran, head of St. David’s School; Rafael Padilla, MD; Marjorie Silverman, former dean, Barnard College; and Niobe Way, Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University.
The Education Committee, and the Board of Trustees as a whole, concluded that the change will provide for a more typical and natural transition stage for youngsters. Very few schools define middle school as grades 4-8, as GJA has. The change will allow teachers to focus pedagogy on a more defined age group and more closely align us with other similar schools, including our sister school and most immediate model, De La Salle Academy, which has been grades 6-8 since 1983. The change will also give greater clarity in messaging that will help in recruiting students and faculty, in fundraising and in marketing and promotion.
George Jackson Academy remains committed to providing the strongest possible program for our boys, while focusing our efforts and resources in the best way possible. During the last year, as part of its strategic planning process, GJA has undertaken a thorough review and updating of the school curriculum, signed a new long-term lease, and completed a $1.5 million renovation of the school premises on St Mark’s Place, funded by an ongoing capital campaign. Separately it has fulfilled a $1 million Challenge Grant made by Board chair Paul Levy and his wife, Karen, and matched by Trustees and other supporters. The School has initiated and will continue partnerships with The Boys’ Club of New York, Global Scholars, The Juilliard School, Just for Kicks Swimming, The New School, and the News Literacy Project. GJA is also a Whitney Museum of American Art Partner School.
George Jackson Academy is an independent, non-sectarian, need-blind middle school designed for bright boys from low-income families. Our students are encouraged to think critically, to engage academically, and to value their intellect as a unique and precious gift. Our single-sex program focuses young men on supportive, engaging academic and social development at the most critical time in their lives. Our single-minded devotion to that mission continues with passion and unwavering commitment by the School’s outstanding faculty and staff, Trustees and supporters.
Paul S. Levy, Chair of the Board, George Jackson Academy
Andre Del Valle, Head of School, George Jackson Academy