New York City and Martin the Tadpole

by Agnes Chiao

Senior Director of Neighborhood Initiatives and Innovation

Last week, a group of us had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Harlem Children’s Zone and The Children’s Aid Society in New York.  The Harlem Children’s Zone is a non-profit organization, led by Geoffrey Canada, that provides cradle to career services for youth in a specific geographic area in Harlem (called the Zone). It was an inspiring trip with lots of hands on learning. Personally, I was most impressed with the level of commitment on the part of the Harlem Children’s Zone staff to do “Whatever it Takes” to ensure success for every child in the zone. Staff were unwavering in their desire and efforts to ensure every kid goes to college.

We also visited two Children’s Aid Society community schools in the Washington Heights neighborhood.  The comprehensive set of services available through the schools (Head Start, dental, mental,  and physical health services, as well as classes for parents and after-school programming) was incredible.  To see Children’s Aid Society’s commitment to a team/partnership approach and the high level of involvement of school principals on the ground, reinforced the great work we are doing locally in the Salt Lake area.

We were privileged to be joined on the visit by the Superintendent of Granite School District, Martin Bates.  He says, “My visit was nothing less than inspirational.  I was thoroughly impressed with the all-out community partnership effort to support children and provide scaffolding through life’s transitions with an unwavering eye on college graduation. I’ve been going over my notes with my staff, my board, and most everyone else I run into.  Thanks again!”

My favorite part of the Children’s Aid Society visit was when Superintendent Bates helped the early learning director of the school catch a tadpole from the garden pool next door, the garden had once been a dumping site and had been revitalized by a nonprofit organization. Superintendent Bates proceeded to brainstorm with the early learning director a whole science curriculum around watching the tadpole grow up into a toad. She recently sent us an email update saying, “happy to share, ‘Martin’ is swimming around inspiring teachers to study tadpoles- we were hunting more today to bring into the classrooms!”.  “Martin the Tadpole” is a great example of collaborations and connections even across state boundaries.

photo courtesy of

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