“We have new heartbeat in the community”: New charter school opens in the Queen City

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — One school opens its doors on Monday for it’s very first time — making some parents hopeful for the change it could have on the community.

“I do think there’s going to be a lot of hope because these people are actually from the community,” said Lashelle Roberson, a mother who was dropping her twins off for kindergarten. “They live here, they see the problems that are going on, so it’s a lot easier to solve them when you know they are and how to address them.”

The Brick Buffalo Academy Charter School opened it’s doors to help city youth and their families break down academic barriers within the community.

“It’s going to impact not just the East Side but the whole entire city,” said executive director, Antwan Barlow. “What we want to do is combine a great education, a great culturally relevant education, along with two generational supports. We want to provide our parents with an ecosystem of services.”

Barlow, who grew up in the East Side of Buffalo, shared that they want to work with partners in the community, and ingrown services to help foster change within the community, and providing health services, affordable housing, early childhood services and workforce development.

“We’re opening our doors, we think we have a new heartbeat in the community, and we think that heartbeat, we’re going to surround it with the services need and the people needed to make sure that the East Side of Buffalo and our neighborhood here on Rich and Genesee is going to have a generational change,” said Barlow.

Barlow, worked alongside community members and Brick Education, over the past four years, to bring this vision here to the Queen City and to listen to what the community needs.

“I think one of the biggest thing that I have done over the last four years is that I’ve held different sessions that actually talk to the community and to find out what is needed in this community,” said Barlow.

Lashelle Roberson, a mother of twins who are attending kindergarten, attended to one of these sessions, which encouraged her to enroll her children at the school.

“The atmosphere was absolutely amazing, the way that the children played and the staff were involved was amazing,” said Roberson. “The children of the faculty that were helping was here also, they helped like I’ve never seen kids help, and they were so excited, I was like that is the atmosphere that I want my children to be in.”

The school opened it’s doors this year, for kindergarten and first grade, and they plan to expand a year every year, until they reach 5th grade, for now, with hopes of expansion in the future.

“I’m here to ensure every child has a champion teacher in each classroom, each and every single day,” said founding principal, Yaimara Wheaton. “I know the impact that it can have and how it can change the course of one’s life.”

Wheaton grew up in Cuba, and came to America when she was 16. She shared with us, how one influential teacher made an impact on her life.

“Miss Ross was an amazing teacher in Memphis Tenn., who taught me how to speak english,” Wheaton said. “She put in the hours and the love, she was basically just a champion teacher who really taught me what was possible and really changed the course of where my life is right now, versus what I thought it would be.”

She hopes to inspire her teachers, and ensures their staff at Brick Buffalo Academy Charter School will have that influence for the community’s youth.

To find out more information on the Brick Buffalo Academy Charter School, visit their website here. They are also enrolling new students until the end of September. To enroll your child, click here.

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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