Tag Archives: Adam J. Lewis Academy

Adam J. Lewis Academy: Out Of Ashes, Hope Thrives

It’s late August. That means school starts sooner than anyone realizes.

And it’s 2021. That means next month marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Both events are significant for a sizable number of Westporters. They’re part of the heart and soul of Adam J. Lewis Academy.

Adam J. Lewis

The Bridgeport elementary school — named for a local man killed that horrible day, and nurtured ever since by his wife and friends — has been a life-changer for hundreds of Bridgeport youngsters and their families.

Now it’s expanding — charting an even more important path than ever.

Adam J. Lewis grew up poor, in the Bronx. But he seized the educational opportunities he was given — scholarships to Dalton and Hamilton College — and made a great, successful and fulfilling life for himself.

Then, on September 11, 2001 he was killed at his World Trade Center desk.

That tragedy sparked a superbly fitting tribute.

His wife Patty Lewis and Westporter Julie Mombello — friends from their days working together at Greens Farms Academy — knew the importance of pre-school education.

In Westport, pre-school — where children explore the world using all their senses, and learn letters, numbers, scientific observation, music, art, language, problem-solving, cooperation, coordination and many other skills — is a given. That’s far less true in Bridgeport, where the cost of preschool can be daunting.

Patty and Julie vowed to do what they could to give little children just a few miles from Westport the same advantages their own kids had.

A well-equipped Adam J. Lewis Academy room.

The goal was to provide youngsters from every background with an intellectually, socially and personally transformative educational experience. Students will leave empowered, ready to make a difference in the world.

The Adam J. Lewis Pre-School was born. And — despite daunting obstacles including fundraising, site selection and city bureaucracy — it has thrived since opening in 2013.

From its start — with just 12 children — it has grown steadily. In 2018 the school relocated to a downtown Bridgeport campus. They’re adding one grade each year. They’ll serve over 200 students through grade 5 by 2023, over 400 as a pre-K through grade 8 independent school by 2030.

Adam J. Lewis Academy pre-K class, 2018-19.

Including middle school is important. Adam J. Lewis Academy will be able to provide a link between elementary and high school, at a challenging time in life that’s already difficult for many.

The school is a true community. Families are embraced, and supported. A scholarship program at Housatonic Community College enables parents to take certification classes at no cost to them, often leading to high-demand, higher-paying jobs and careers.

A staff psychologist bridges the gap between home and school — just like a private boarding school.

From the start, Westporters have supported Adam J. Lewis Academy, with donations, board service and sweat equity.

The other day, co-founders Patty Lewis and Julie Mombello — still deeply involved as ex officio board members — talked excitedly about the school’s direction.

They offered stories, like a girl with a turbulent home life whose mother took advantage of resources to support her child — now confident and proud — and turned her own life around too.

“The 20 years since 9/11 have gone both fast and slow,” Lewis says.

“The idea that we’re going vertically means we can have an even bigger impact — just like his schools had on Adam. We’re looking at nearly 10 years of a student’s life in one school.”

Adam J. Lewis’s football jersey hangs in the school office. Students learn about, and understand, his story.

Nearly 20 years after an unspeakable tragedy, his name — and impact — live on.

(For more information on the Adam J. Lewis Academy, click here.)

 

After The Protests: Here’s How To Help

Sunday’s “United Against Racism” protest on Jesup Green was powerful and important.

But many of the several hundred attendees left feeling helpless. What can we actually do, besides march and speak? they wondered.

Darcy Hicks heard them. the co-organizer of the event — and a longtime social justice advocate — says, “I’m a big believer in protests and rallies. But not if they just stop there.”

On Monday, she went to work. She compiled a list of ways to help.

Downtown Bridgeport — there’s a lot going on.(Photo/Gary Pivot)

She focused on Bridgeport because she and her husband — attorney Josh Koskoff — both work there.

“We love the people,” Darcy says. “It’s a vibrant city with amazing history – yet 40% of children live below poverty level.

“Having a foot in both Westport and Bridgeport makes me realize that if all of us had that experience, we would think about their needs more. It’s hard to remember people in need of you don’t know them, or even see them.”

So, Darcy says, in addition to rallies and protests — or instead of, if you are concerned about COVID-19 — here is what you can do:


1. Drive to Bridgeport. It’s not far. It’s part of our extended neighborhood — and it’s important to interact in any way we can.

If you’ve been braving Starbucks, go to Bean N Batter instead one day. Treat yourself to waffles — available for curbside pickup. BONUS: It’s owned by Staples grad Will Hamer.

Instead of going to Dunkin’, surprise your family with a box of the real thing from Daybreak Doughnuts. Tired of the usual takeout? Wait until you feast on Brazilian churrascaria from Pantanal

2. Online shoppers: Here’s a better way to support your habit! https://www.fastcompany.com/…/7-black-owned-businesses-to-s…

3. Give. I know, some people say it’s inappropriate to ask for money these days. But for those of us fortunate enough to fill our carts with 700 rolls of toilet paper, we can spare something. The ACLU is always a good place to donate. So are https://bailproject.org and www.campaignzero.org.

Here’s a list of state and local organizations I’ve compiled, with the help of BPT Generation Now! (an amazing group of people, who are making great changes in Bridgeport):

Black Lives Matter
CTCore
Citywide Youth Coalition
Hearing Youth Voices
Students 4 Educational Justice
Connecticut Students 4 a Dream
Make the Road CT
Adam J. Lewis Academy
Neighborhood Studios

Some very happy Adam J. Lewis preschoolers.

4. Join these Facebook groups:
https://www.facebook.com/…/Justice-for-Jayson-155481706457…/
https://www.facebook.com/noahcalebfreedom/
https://www.facebook.com/nhvcrb/

5. When the quarantine is lifted and you find yourself filling your day back up with exercise classes, pick a day to volunteer for the Bridgeport Public Schools. They need visiting readers! https://www.bridgeportedu.net/SVAB.

Or volunteer to teach English to women at Mercy Learning Center. Or help kids with their homework at The Caroline House.

There’s so much more that can be done. If you know of more ways to close the socioeconomic gap that exacerbates racism and inequality in this area, please click “Comments” below.

Adam J. Lewis Academy Thrives

Adam J. Lewis grew up poor, in the Bronx. But he seized the educational opportunities he was given — scholarships to Dalton, then Hamilton College — and made a great, successful and fulfilling life for himself.

Then, on September 11, 2001 he was killed at his World Trade Center desk.

In his memory, the people who loved Adam — his wife and many friends — built a superbly fitting tribute.

Adam J. Lewis

Adam J. Lewis

Patty Lewis and Westporter Julie Mombello — friends from their days working together at Greens Farms Academy — knew the importance of pre-school education.

In Westport, pre-school — where children explore the world using all their senses, and learn letters, numbers, scientific observation, music, art, language, problem-solving, cooperation, coordination and many other skills — is a given. That’s far less true in Bridgeport, where the cost of preschool can be daunting.

Patty and Julie vowed to do what they could to give little children just a few miles from Westport the same advantages their own kids had.

The Adam J. Lewis Pre-School was born. And — despite daunting obstacles including fundraising, site selection and city bureaucracy — it has thrived since opening in 2013.

From its start — with just 12 children — it has grown steadily. This year there are 70 students, in pre-K3, pre-K4, kindergarten and 1st grade.

Last year the school relocated to a downtown Bridgeport campus. Its new name is the Adam J. Lewis Academy. They’ll add one grade each year. Ultimately they’ll serve 150 students, as a pre-K through grade 5 independent school.

The goal is to provide children from every background with an intellectually, socially and personally transformative educational experience. Students will leave empowered, and ready to make a difference in the world.

Westporters continue to play a key role in the Adam J. Lewis Academy. Lee Bollert is a longtime board member; 2nd Selectman Jen Tooker joined 4 years ago. Mombello remains a driving force.

Saba Pina — an original teacher 7 years ago — is still there. A new 1st grade instructor came from the Greens Farms Academy internship program.

Many other Westporters help too, volunteering their time and donating funds. (Fully 100% of school families receive need-based financial assistance.)

9/11 was one of the darkest days in American history. Out of those ashes though, a wonderful story of hope and dreams continues to rise.

(For more information on the Adam J. Lewis Academy — and to help — click here.)

An early class of very happy Adam J. Lewis preschoolers.