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Senior Spotlight | Carrington Williams

April 07, 2021
By Jonathan Winkler

TNA Class of 2021


With a bright future ahead of her, Carrington Williams has set her sights on a future career in education. Carrington, who will graduate from The Neighborhood Academy in May 2021, has applied to 10 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania - all of which have offered her scholarships!

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking receiving all these scholarships because I have so many choices in the next few months, but it’s a good problem to have,” said Carrington. “My top three schools are Seton Hill, Gannon, and Slippery Rock.”

Carrington has drawn up a solid blueprint for her future with goals including the completion of a “four plus one” program, receiving her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and then obtaining her master’s degree in Special Education.

“TNA really got me interested in Early Childhood Education—we have such amazing teachers there. I want to be like them and put myself out there to help kids. Teachers really help kids get to where they are later down the road, and I want to be a part of that,” said Carrington.

She also plans to focus on building skills in entrepreneurship by starting her own daycare!

“When I was younger, I had to go to my grandparents’ house in the morning because my father had to go to work early. Someday, I would love to start my own daycare and provide resources to help families, so they have an outlet for their kids when they have to go to work. It could even have an after-school program, too, for parents who work later in the day,” said Carrington.

Somewhere in between her higher education and building her dream job, Carrington hopes to get involved at TNA after graduation! “I was thinking of working at TNA during a summer to get a feel for the students and get some experience,” said Carrington. 

We can’t wait to see more from Carrington in the future.

Alumni Spotlight | Cheyne Francis

March 31, 2021
By Jonathan Winkler

TNA Class of 2016
University of Pittsburgh

Cheyne Francis, a 2016 alumna of The Neighborhood Academy, graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in May 2020. 

“To be successful in college, I would remind myself three things: I know how to read. I know how to write. I know how to think. You can do anything you set your mind to if you can do these three things, and I credit TNA for teaching them to me,” said Cheyne. “TNA prepared me for college, so when I finally went to college, I was ready for anything… although, living away from home was completely new to me.” 

Like most college students, Cheyne explored her options and then decided on a course of study. 

“During my freshman year at IUP, I had my heart set on Speech Pathology as my area of focus, but the classes didn’t quite spark my interest. I ended up switching gears and became immersed in disability advocacy, which was the perfect combination of Special Education and Law and Policy,” said Cheyne. 

Her passions landed her in a variety of college clubs, such as the Sign Language Club, three different honorary fraternities, and the Women and Gender Club, which she oversaw as President! 

After earning a Bachelor’s degree with a Major in Disability Services and a Minor in Women and Gender Studies, Cheyne now studies for her Master’s Degree at the University of Pittsburgh’s Social and Comparative Analysis in Education (SCAE) program. 

Cheyne will graduate from Pitt in the Fall of 2021 and seeks a position as an Education Policy Analyst. 

“The Neighborhood Academy is the place to be your best self while you’re working on your best self.”

Parent Interview - Latonia Cherry

April 11, 2017
By Rachael Dittmar

Recently, I sat down with one of our own TNA parents, Latonia Cherry, to learn a little bit about her experiences at our school. Although each child is different, many of her insights reaffirmed the values we share here. She also provided some great advice to new parents 

How long have you been part of the TNA community? 

Our daughter Shataya is currently a Junior and she enrolled in 8th grade.

Why TNA?

Truthfully, it was our daughters decision. She had been in Catholic schools and researched The Neighborhood Academy on her own when it was time for her to “graduate” from her previous school.  We [as her parents] were particularly impressed by the curriculum and structure of the extended school day, like with the built in after school activities and evening study time. We were pretty sold on the school right away after reading the website. The Open House just confirmed everything we hoped for.

How have you seen TNA impact your child?

She’s always been very studious, but since her time at TNA we’ve seen her break out of her shell. She used to be very shy, for example, when doing group projects she used to try to get the other students in the group to present so she wouldn’t have to get up in front of everyone. With the tours she gives, and more recently her role in the Dating Violence Resource Fair, Shataya is no longer afraid of public speaking and does it with ease. 

What’s the best thing you’ve done to support your daughter?

Being there for her. Especially in the beginning, when she was first transitioning, there was a lot more emotional adjustment and even more help with homework checks. I used to ask her weekly what tests she had coming up, but as she got used to the work load, I stopped needing to. She started internalizing her own academic needs. And her grades show her responsibility. TNA gives enough notification so you know if something isn’t right with your child.

What’s the best advice you can give to current or perspective TNA parents?

Prime your child for what’s ahead of them. TNA is going to expect more than other schools. We told Shataya, who had always been an A-student, “you might not get all A’s or even B’s at first and that’s okay.” We would much rather see her try really hard and fail than not try at all. I would also tell new parents to be there through the frustrations. [Coming to TNA is] a huge change for most students and sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen to them and be there for them. Additionally, I would tell Shataya to take advantage of all of the tutors and advisors. There’s no excuse not to!

Our Middle School Transition

March 14, 2017
By Ron Snyder
Dear future middle school parent,
Anytime the topic of my transition over to the Middle School was brought up with family, friends and fellow teachers, there has been one recurring question amongst all of them: “How are you going to adjust to the younger kids?” To be honest, it was not something that I seriously considered when deciding to take on the task of educating 6th and 7th graders, because I thought that during my 5 years at the high school level, the students couldn’t possibly be that much different...could they? I remember the moment I realized HOW different these younger students are going to be, and the ways in which my approach is going to differ on a day to day basis.
For the first time in my professional career, I was invited to get involved in admissions process and meet the families for the first time they walked through the doors. With every family that sat down to talk about what they wanted for their children, it became abundantly clear that these young men, these 6th and 7th graders, were much different from the experiences I had while teaching 11th and 12th grade. Those upper classes are more focused with a quiet energy that has been harnessed and focused through several years of The Neighborhood Academy’s classroom experience.
The realization that the teachers at the Middle School, that I, would be tasked with setting the tone for the next 5 to 6 years for these students was one of excitement and anticipation! These young men who now possess that same energy and focus in its most raw form, will be guided by the principles and expectations that I have come to embrace during my time with the high school. With this in mind, we are currently developing a unique approach to our academic day, making sure to incorporate not only the educational growth through our core curriculum, but the physical and spiritual realms as well through outdoor excursions and community outreach.
On top of curriculum development in our own classrooms, we have been planning trips to local middle schools on both ends of the success spectrum. By learning about what works and what does not in these real life middle school environments, we are setting up our students for a successful college prep experience as they move forward in our program. Your child will be asked to do things that most traditional schools will not ask them to do, because both you and I know that your child is not the traditional student. They seek to have their energies focused, horizons broadened, and experiences memorable. We look forward to that opportunity with your student, and even more so you and your child becoming a part of our family.
Ron Snyder Jr.

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