It’s no coincidence that Nickeisha Grey feels a sense of community at Brooklyn Dreams Charter School.
Her investment in the future of her students is especially personal – she grew up in the area and went to middle school just a few blocks from where Brooklyn Dreams is now.
“This is my neighborhood,” she said. “I always wanted to, as an educator, give back to the area that gave to me. I grew up here, I went to elementary school two blocks away, so it just feels good to be in the place that raised me. I feel like I’m raising these same kids, as well.”
Grey is in her eighth year at Brooklyn Dreams as a seventh/eighth grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher. She was honored as an Excellence in Teaching winner as part of National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) Excellence Awards for the 2021-22 school year.
It was her experience as an intern at elementary schools in the area that drew her to teaching at an early age.
“I’ve always had that that passion for teaching even as a teenager,” she said. “I knew that was something that I wanted to do and I stuck with it.”
Grey enjoys that Brooklyn Dreams is relatively smaller compared to other schools and is a true community. That means working together no matter the circumstances to transform children’s lives.
“We know all of the kids, we know their parents, and it just feels like a good community of kids,” she said. “Everyone gets along, we have our issues here and there, but it just feels good to be here. It feels welcoming. I always feel appreciated by my leadership. What we do with the kids, it’s really important.”
That sense of community has created a lasting bond. Each year scholars return to see how she is doing and update her on the impact she has had on them.
“It’s crazy to see years from now, they’re still coming back,” she said. “I have kids that are now graduating high school, going into college or have been in college for a couple years, and they always come back and tell me, ‘Miss Gray, you’re one of my favorite teachers.’ The fact that I’ve been able to build strong relationships with kids who still want to come back each year to see me is the best part.”
The 2021-22 school year for which she was honored was a stressful one for Grey. Despite the challenges of returning to the classroom full-time after the COVID-19 pandemic, her students achieved exemplary state test scores.
“We worked hard trying to make things normal,” she said. “The fact that their state exam scores were super high, it shows that whatever I’m doing it’s working for them. They did so well. I was really proud of that group.”
Principal Omar Thomas said each year Grey has a classroom dedicated to learning, achievement, and success. She sets a tone with an equal mix of high expectations, compassion, and support.
“For many scholars, she has been able to shift the narrative from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ and her impact is felt at Brooklyn Dreams, at local high schools, and even with scholars in college,” Thomas said. “Ms. Grey is a pillar of Brooklyn Dreams, and it is the privilege of the school to have her supporting our scholars in eighth grade English Language Arts, the Regents class, and in growing scholars on their paths to adulthood. Ms. Grey shows excellence in everything it takes to be a teacher.”
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Grey!
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About Brooklyn Dreams Charter School:
Brooklyn Dreams Charter School is a tuition-free, public charter school in Brooklyn, New York, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.