Innovation Seniors and Essay Busters Unite!

Innovation Seniors and Essay Busters Unite!

On December 9, Innovation 12th graders celebrated the completion of their college application essays. Kudos go to the many essay-writing mentors provided by an Innovation partner called Essay Busters for supporting our college-bound seniors through the long process of refining their thoughts, producing countless drafts (the process started in October), and finishing an outstanding personal statement.

Awards were presented to the students judged to have produced the three best essays. This year’s winners are:
1st Place- Ana Paulino
2nd Place- Antonio Castro
3rd Place- Gabimael Ortiz

Innovation Executive Director Stephen Falla Riff, said, “We are proud of the award winners and equally proud of all Innovation students who participated in Essay Busters to produce first-rate college application essays!”
Teaching History in a STEM-Focused World

Teaching History in a STEM-Focused World

Innovation History Department Chairperson Billy Matthews, and 10th Grade Dean and History Teacher Sarah Sullivan, attended the 2015 Annual Conference of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) in New Orleans.

Billy Matthews and Sarah Sullivan delivering STEM-enhanced Social Studies curriculum at Innovation
Billy Matthews and Sarah Sullivan delivering a STEM-enhanced Social Studies curriculum at Innovation
Billy and Sarah at the NCSS Annual Conference in New Orleans

At the conference, Billy and Sarah were interviewed by a publication called Ed Circuit on the topic of teaching history in a STEM-focused world. Billy made the case for the inextricable links between history and STEM. “It’s harmful to steer our nation’s students away from the Social Sciences because they allegedly do not contain math, reading or scientific analysis,” he says. “History can work beautifully when correctly aligned with these other programs because a clear historical narrative can only be constructed through the use of STEM skills.”
Link to Article

Billy and Sarah also described Innovation’s practical approach to teaching history, one that is hands on and engages students in project-based learning, which requires the students to demonstrate skills in reading, writing, mapping, graphing and statistics.

Thanks to our staff for ably representing Innovation at conferences and setting forth the Innovation approach to teaching history!

Social Services Fair a Big Hit

Social Services Fair a Big Hit

On November 11, 2015, Veterans Day, Boys Town New York and the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation (“Innovation”) hosted a East Harlem Social ServiceFair and Clothing Giveaway.

The event was attended by over 300 families and 15 socialservice agencies. The clothing donated to Boys Town by The Gap Companies was gone in record time.

Families lined up at noon and due to the incredible turnout, doors had to be closed by 2pm. We are thankful that so many families got to receive the much needed information for socialservice agencies such as Children’s Aid Society, LSA FamilyServices and NYC Parks (plus many others) and also walk away with brand new clothes that will serve them well during the upcoming winter season. We are also very sorry to all those families who were unable to get in due to us having to close early. If you need contacts to any local social services please feel free to contact us.

A big thank you to all Boys Town staff that helped in planning the event and at the event. Also, thank you to Sean McClenathan and Elsie Encarnacion for all their work in making this event a reality. Your dedication to this school and community is unwavering and events like this just show how much you both care. Thank you as well to the numerous student and staff volunteers who showed up on their day off to give back to the East Harlem community.


About Boys Town New York

Since 1991, Boys Town New York has been building strong foundations for thousands of children and families by offering the right services at the right time based on their individual needs. In 2013, more than 13,000 children received help through Boys Town New York’s Integrated Continuum of Child and Family Services, including 836 who received direct care through Treatment Family Services, Intervention and Assessment Services, and In-Home Family Services.

About Innovation High School

In New York State the average graduation rate in 2008-2009 was 72%. For Latino students, however, that number dropped to 51.8% and for African American males it was 28%. For English Language Learners it was 39.7% and of the students with disabilities only 24.7% graduated high school.

East Harlem is hit hard by these statistics – where a high percentage of students have learning disabilities, struggle with literacy, and are English Language Learners. Since its inception in 2009, The Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation has provided a creative approach to the educational problems that many of its students face.

Innovation’s mission is “Leadership through Innovation.” Faculty at Innovation strives to help each student develop leadership skills and an innovative approach to problem solving – the same methodology that is used every day to model and run the school. Every day, the students and staff of Innovation are striving for excellence together.

Programs in Action: El Dìa de los Muertos Celebration!

Programs in Action: El Dìa de los Muertos Celebration!

Innovation celebrated el Dìa de los Muertos with a Culinary Arts & Open Arts club collaboration: Culinary students treated everyone to incredibly delicious traditional Mexican food, while Open Arts students assisted the Culinary group with the creation of calaca-inspired masks. It was a huge success! Thank you to the Culinary Arts/Spanish Language crew, staff who visited, and after school/SMT for supporting the event!

Road to Graduation Competition

Road to Graduation Competition

Congratulations to Innovation’s PBS Student Reporting Labs team for winning the Road to Graduation competition! Under the guidance of Innovation teachers Eric Reyes and Danny Hwang, our student production team (Shakaine Grant, Ricky Guillen, Sulayman Jawara, and Tesharr Roque) captured the inspiring story of Innovation student Quajon Avila including his graduation day. You can view the winning video and read more about the competition here.

Innovation Student Featured on PBS Newshour Website

Innovation Student Featured on PBS Newshour Website

A member of Innovation’s Class of 2015 is featured on the PBS Reporting Labs website (here) as well as the American Graduate (here) This inspiring video was produced by Innovation’s own student journalists with the support of PBS Reporting Labs.

Innovation High School and Deloitte LLP Partner for Impact Day

Innovation High School and Deloitte LLP Partner for Impact Day

On Friday, June 5th Innovation hosted 20 volunteers from Deloitte LLP as part of Impact Day, Deloitte’s company-wide day of service. Thanks to the efforts of Innovation’s Advisory Committee, the Deloitte volunteers, and our dedicated Science Department the day was a success. Volunteers were embedded in Innovation science classes to work with small groups of students throughout the day. Using a lesson designed by Science Department Chair Sean Pawelec, volunteers facilitated activities focused on the importance of lifelong learning including discussion of their own college/career choices and experiences.

Collaborative School Governance Meeting

Collaborative School Governance Meeting

Greetings, everyone.

Our next Collaborative School Governance (CSG) Meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday, June 15, 2015, at 5 p.m., in Room 209.
The CSG is a body comprised of staff, students and parents, and is intended to give everyone an opportunity to raise and review issues of importance to the Innovation community.
Collaborative School Governance Agenda (CSG) – June 15, 2015, 5 p.m.

  1. Sign-in
  2. Introductions and Welcome
  3. Update on school activities & new programs
    1. Graduation Committee: graduation and related activities
    2. Summer School plans
    3. SMT: New programs for next year and strategic plan

4. Student, parent and staff agenda items

5. Adjournment
Stephen Falla Riff
Executive Director
The Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation
Innovation Student Journalists Produce Video for SPED Collaborative Conference

Innovation Student Journalists Produce Video for SPED Collaborative Conference

The NYC Special Education Collaborative asked Innovation’s Video Journalism After School Club to produce a video exploring their 5th annual conference’s theme: Building An Inclusive Mindset and Practice. The student journalists shot extensive video footage and interviewed school leaders from Innovation and three other NYC charter schools to collect their stories and perspectives on building truly inclusive schools.

This video was produced with the assistance of Innovation video journalism instructors Eric Reyes and Danny Hwang. It premiered to acclaim at the 2015 Annual Special Education Conference at the Baruch College Newman Conference Center on June 4, 2015


In the video, Innovation Vice Principal Dru Collins describes Innovation’s mindset on inclusion and student support: “At Innovation we really take time to get know our students on an individual level, and we try to create a path to a plan that addresses each student’s unique and diverse talents and strengths. We try to build instructional supports around what kids can do rather than what they can’t do.”

The Video Journalism club was proud to contribute to the success of the SPED Collaborative Conference, and to highlight the successful SPED practices employed by Innovation and other New York City charter schools: Broome Street Academy, Hyde Leadership Charter School, and Kipp NYC Public Charter Schools.