Students who can read and write confidently have a key, of an almost magical character, that will open doors for them throughout their lives. The Bronx Academy of Letters, a new public school launched in partnership with the Urban Assembly and New Visions for Public Schools, provides its students with this key within the context of a rigorous, college-preparatory academic program aligned with state standards and assessments. Our school is centered on the belief that the written word is the fundamental building block for success, not only in academic study but also in the realm of the imagination and in the world of work. Graduates of the Bronx Academy of Letters will be strong and flexible learners who read and write at or above grade level and have an abiding interest in expressing themselves through the written word. This increased engagement and fluency with writing will help our students to excel in all of their scholastic pursuits and to realize their wide and varied ambitions to be anything from poets, journalists, and rap artists to politicians, doctors, and scientists.
To create this culture of literacy in our school, we are integrating the written word into all areas of an enhanced and challenging core curriculum by using literary texts in every discipline. These texts serve both as centerpieces for instruction and as clear-voiced supplemental material. Students also take a four-year series of writing classes starting with Writing Genres, a four-part course designed to give freshmen a chance to learn about the crafts of fiction/memoir, nonfiction/ journalism, poetry/lyrics, and playwriting/screenwriting. A writer in residence helps the faculty run workshops, publish a school newspaper and literary magazine, and coordinate a writers' forum. The entire school will convene to hear from a different professional New York writer every week, exposing the students to the city's rich variety of voices. And students will participate in routine outings to theaters, film houses, poetry slams, and other community performances.