Ilan Weissman '00, MS Ed '01 couldn't have scripted a more perfect teaching moment if she'd tried. Four years ago, as the director of media studies at the Ella Baker School, Weissman and her students were studying the power of youth movements across generations. Then Hunter College announced its intention to build a new science center—by leveling the complex in which Ella Baker and other schools are housed.
Between classes, the halls of the Granville T. Woods School for Science and Technology—also known as M.S. 584—look like those of a typical middle school: empty, fluorescent-lit, with shiny floors and brightly-colored walls. Diagrammed reports on the human digestive system have been carefully arranged on a bulletin board. Another showcases poetry from a language arts class: “My heart is strong./powerful and beautiful./My heart is strong.” What distinguishes the Woods School and the leadership of principal Verone Kennedy M.S. Ed. ’00, though, is the school’s unofficial motto, visible in multiple places: “Believe, then achieve at 584.”
Cassandra Hyacinthe has long been surrounded by children, beginning at the youth-oriented Catholic parish in Philadelphia where she grew up. Then, during high school and college, she participated in the Camp Fire Girls program. Later came her children—and their friends, who were always attracted to Cassandra’s house. So when she moved to New York in 1987, teaching seemed to be the way to go.