We’re pleased to announce that Melissa Silberman has joined Broome Street Academy as the new Head of School; her first day was June 1.
Melissa is a graduate of Vassar College, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and English Literature. She also has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Fordham University. She has over twenty years of public education and nonprofit leadership to her credit.
She began her career as an English teacher in the New York City public schools for seven years, and then spent eight years as Assistant Principal and then Principal at Automotive High School. She was twice profiled by the New York Times about her impressive impact on student performance. She has also served as the Senior Vice President of National Partnerships at CollegeSpring, a nonprofit, and as the Executive Director of Public Giving at New York City’s Department of Education. Most recently, she worked in the South Bronx supporting career pathway development to high-demand industries.
Melissa chose teaching and education as a career because of her life experiences. “I’m a born and bred New Yorker — I grew up in Brooklyn. I was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to keep food on the table. I know what it’s like to live in poverty, and to be so worried all the time that it affects one’s ability to learn in school. So for me, becoming an educator was a way to change the trajectory for young people with stories similar to my own”
When she was a teenager, Melissa met her earliest mentors at an after-school job; they were professionals who recognized her potential when her teachers and community didn’t. They encouraged her to think differently about herself and her future, and they urged her to apply to college. She worked her way through community college, where she excelled, and then transferred to Vassar on a full scholarship. She was the first person in her family to graduate from high school and college.
While at Vassar Melissa made the decision to pursue a career in education, so that kids like her would have a better experience in school than she had.
“Let’s not assume that if a young person has a crisis at home or at school, it means they can’t achieve academic rigor,” Melissa told us. When educators think about the whole child and meet all their needs, that’s when students can achieve their full potential. “When a student is engaged, and knows that a teacher believes that they’re capable of really hard work, it changes how a student thinks about her or himself. It’s a school’s job to set the bar really high, and believe that when students are fully supported, that they can and will lead rich and promising lives.
BSA’s partnership with The Door, a nationally renowned multi-service youth organization, means that students have easy access to all the socio-economic supports they need, whether its healthcare or counseling, college prep or arts education, and more. One of Melissa’s focuses in her new position is to increase integration with The Door’s internship and job programs. “A light goes on when young people see how they fit into the workplace, and they learn more about themselves through these experiences. Being exposed to the world of work while still in high school helps kids see there’s opportunity for them. That they can get a job, and contribute to our society. And be powerful in shaping the narrative of their lives.”