Last Thursday, in spite of the balmy summer weather (for which we’ve all been waiting so long) and the rapidly approaching dismissal bell, the students in Ms. Ng’s 9th grade science class were not overly anxious to leave the classroom. Instead of squirming in their seats and checking their watches, the girls of the Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn were glued to the screens of their school’s brand new laptops—the school received 96 laptops, in addition to six laptop carts, 2 desktop computers and several smart-boards—thanks to Councilmember Diana Reyna, who generously donated roughly $300,000 in electronics equipment so the school may build a state-of-the-art computer lab.
“Our women of tomorrow are going to advance now, because now they have the right resources,” Reyna said. “These resources will help advance the students’ performance and female leadership we expect out of this school. They may walk in as bare bones, but with out assistance we are building the infrastructure to set the tone for success.”
The Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn is one of five institutions supported by The Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN), a non-profit organization that supports two programs to help urban youth in break the cycle of poverty—The Young Women’s Leadership Schools, a network of all-girls public schools, and CollegeBound Initiative, a school-based college guidance program. This year marks the first for the Brooklyn YWLS, which now hosts approximately 81 6th graders. The schools, which are 6th grade-12th grade, are primarily focused on four priority areas: College Preparation, Math, Science and Technology, Leadership and Female Adolescent Development, and the addition of a new computer lab will greatly add not only to the quality of school programming, but serve as tools to empower the students who utilize them.
“These students need to have technology at their fingertips. We want them to be as competitive as they can be. And they are such busy little bees!” said Nkechia Ng-A-Qui, or Ms. Ng, who teaches science. She explained that her students will use the laptops to conduct research for science experiments—a weekly fare in her classroom—whereas in Language Arts class, the laptops will aid the students in researching and writing their own history books. “They are such focused students. Also, these laptops allow students who need a more visual or tactile approach to learning to really thrive,” Ng said.
Because there is only one class of students at this time—one additional class will be added each year from now on—there are enough laptop computers to stock each classroom.
“As soon as these computers got here, they changed our school,” said Principal Talana Bradley, beaming with appreciation and pride. “It just helps prepare them to be competitive in the world.”