What Has 2020 Meant for Inwood Academy?

By: Sarabeth Weszely, Senior Writer
December 23, 2020

“This school has not missed a beat. When you look at the year overall, we have some significant accomplishments. We gave Chromebooks to all of our students. We have an advisory program that now serves all grades. The staff has held countless virtual parent-teacher conferences, curriculum nights, professional development sessions – the list goes on. To do all of these things in the year we have had says a lot about the way Inwood Academy serves its community.”

– Tomas Almonte, Inwood Academy Board Chair

Charter Renewal Hearing

Every three to five years, we partner with the New York City Department of Education to hold a public hearing where IAL students, alumni, parents and community members can speak openly about their experience of our school. Testimonials at these hearings help inform the NYCDOE’s decision to renew our charter and let us continue to serve Upper Manhattan and the Bronx as a tuition free public charter school. Even though this year’s hearing was held over Zoom, it was a great one, with over 100 participants and 26 spoken testimonials.

Here are some excerpted quotes from our family members’ testimonials as they reflected on the impact of our school through this pandemic:

“I’m a proud parent of a child who is attending IAL for the first time this year. She was accepted this summer (mid-pandemic) into the 7th grade. She was in public school and she has an IEP and she always was struggling. For the first time, I feel confident because my daughter is finally coming out of her shell. The teachers have open communication with parents and open their doors for families to be involved in the school. I am happy that my daughter is in this school and I want her to graduate from this school – from Inwood to college!” 

– Patricia Jaquez

“The way this school has developed their remote learning program and changed it when it isn’t working, I think it has been great. I work full-time and have six kids, and that’s a lot, especially when you’re also trying to get your kid’s school to have structure. But IAL has had that from the beginning. If a kid is struggling, they support them alongside the parents, not only through their teachers but also the social workers and great counselors.”

– Eslaynet Duran

“The teachers and administrators at IAL support my children even through the pandemic. They call my children when they’ve missed meetings or assignments, they check on them, they are worried for them, and I notice these things.” 

– Barbara Chevez

“I am a single mom and I am so appreciative of IAL. At my daughter’s previous school, she was struggling, I was struggling, and I couldn’t meet with the teachers. After two years at IAL, my daughter is doing amazing. She has come out of her shell. Her art and her education have blossomed because of the help that Inwood Academy gives both of us. They teach students to problem solve. This transition with COVID has been seamless, and that’s an amazing accomplishment.” 

– Elizabeth Pinos

“They help us through this pandemic. They help us unify with our students through activities at home.”

– Carmen Pichardo

“I was worried when the pandemic began, and my daughter told me, ‘oh no mom, don’t worry, I’m prepared. They prepared us for this.’ So from that I know my daughter is in a very good school.” 

– Ramona Jimenez

Virtual Performances

The show must go on!

One of the most widely enjoyed accomplishments our students have made this year through the pandemic was our High School’s production of ‘Exposure’ by Vishesh Abeyratne, which was performed by seven talented high school actresses over Zoom of December 18th. There is a lot we could say about this production, but we’ll just let you experience it for yourself (whole production recording below!).


Our Video Journalism interviewed many students and staff members to create this Holiday Video over Zoom, which is as hilarious and heart-wrenching as this year has been:

And our 5th and 6th graders continue the tradition of making a Performing Arts Winter Break Parody – this time with a Hamilton-themed twist: Hamilton Winter Break Parody (The Young, Scrappy and Quarantined Remix)

End of 2020 Reflections

This year has affected us all in very different ways, but one thing we have in common is that we endured it together. Here are some reflections on the year that our students, teachers and parents shared:

“2020 was like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded, never knowing when the ups , downs or turns are going to occur.”

“2020 taught me how small we are on this planet and that the most important and least valued thing has always been the possibility of kissing and hugging our loved ones at any time.” 

“I thought I was strong … but my children have shown me so much courage and strength that I have sincerely learned from them that they are stronger and braver than I am.”

“This year has reminded me what I’m grateful for, and reminded me to slow down and enjoy where I am instead of planning like I normally do.”

“It has been a different type of challenge and learning experience.”

“Extreme living.”

“I think this was the year that I discovered a lot about myself and gained many interests and goals.”

“2020 was full of ups and downs but it helped me learn many things and it helped me grow as a person.”

“A rollercoaster, quite literally because I don’t like rollercoasters.”

“Hardest year of my life.”

“2020 has taught me that material things mean nothing! Life can change within the blink of an eye. Appreciate your loved ones. Never miss a chance to tell your children and your parents how thankful you are to have them in your life. Family over anything and everything.” 

“2020 has marked us all in one way or another. I lost family members, close friends, acquaintances. I have learned that life is so fragile. I have learned that if I do not take care of myself, I cannot take of my loved ones. I realized this when I contracted COVID. Tomorrow is very uncertain. Today is what is certain.” 

“I learned how sad it is to see our neighbors die without being able to do anything to give life. I learned that it hurts to be scared, to have to run fast so as not to get infected. I learned that it is sad to look out of a window. I learned we are very fragile people, and we must live life to the fullest, giving without expecting anything in return, loving our neighbor as ourselves.”

“2020 taught me that the little we have: a hug, a kiss, an I love you, cost little and are worth millions.”

“I learned the importance of listening first.”

“My 2020 was stressful but I found the light in it.”

“This year, 2020, taught me that there is strength in being together and the importance of a phone call to ask how are you? My daughter used to come home at night, but now I can spend more time with her and I have come to know her better. I am a breast cancer survivor, so I already knew the value of life, but with this pandemic I now value every second even more.”

“It was all a dream…”

“Reflective and Restorative with a dash of Madness.”

“2020 taught me that family, unity and friendship are the most important things we have to live by, day by day, because we know about today and not tomorrow. It taught me to be humble, to join others in their pain, but above all, how much we must love.”

“This is hard, and it’s painful, and it is hard to find the joy and the bright moments in every day. But one day, our doors will be open again. Our halls will be filled with singing, and laughing, the heated discussions you have with students in your class, the smell of lunch cooking through the whole building, the sound of the bells, and the late bell, and the ‘you’re really late now’ bell. Those sounds will come back, the feeling we had when we were in our halls will return. I am eager to be together again, to share in and reflect on those changes, whenever they may be, to spend time again in community, with community.”

– Mary Hackett, High School Principal

As we continue to wait for this brighter future to fully unfold, we hope you experience resilience and rest this holiday season and in the new year to come. As always, Inwood Academy will be here for you no matter what 2021 brings our way.

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