Mott Haven Academy celebrates anniversary and growth

Students from Mott Haven Academy. Photo: Kalah Siegel

Students, faculty and supporters gathered at Mott Haven Academy at the beginning of the school year to celebrate the school’s 10 year anniversary and expansion into middle school.

This school year, a group of 100 students in the fifth and sixth grade will form the inaugural cohort of Mott Haven Academy Middle School for Social Leadership. Eventually, Haven Academy will be Pre-K through eighth grade, as attendees continue their educational track.

“I’m excited about the new school and I’m excited to have social studies and science classes,” said Isaiah Clanton, an incoming sixth grader.

The school, which opened in 2008 and serves 400 students, is the first in the nation to use trauma-sensitive curriculum specially designed to meet the needs of children in the child welfare system. This initiative is possible because of a partnership with The New York Foundling, one of the city’s largest social service agencies, that helps staff members with professional training specifically related to trauma and child development, as well as providing enrolled families with services like access to therapy and counseling.

“Preventive Services is the one that connected me to Haven Academy,” said Patricia Matthews, the guardian of both Clanton and a graduate of Haven Academy, adding that the school offered the children therapy and counseling, and “helped with appointments I needed support for.”

Two-thirds of Haven Academy students are either in foster care or receiving preventative care, and the remaining one-third are non-welfare residents from the area.

The institution’s approach is championed by community members and elected officials, including charter school advocate Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony alongside The New York Foundling CEO and President Bill Baccaglini and Haven Academy Principal Jessica Nauiokas.

“Families were lined up with smiles on their faces this morning and our middle school students were thrilled to be able to go on up to the middle school floors which are brand new for us,” said Nauiokas.