Jose Gonzalez didn’t know much about the New York City school system when he moved to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic in 2001. He raised his sons Alvaro and Allan in Highbridge, a tight-knit neighborhood on a hill overlooking Yankee Stadium.
Alvaro and Allan attended elementary school in Highbridge, and Gonzalez knew he wanted them to stay close to home for middle school. So he got involved with the United Parents of Highbridge, a group that was lobbying the city to create a middle school in a neighborhood that had not had one since the 1960s.
Over the course of nearly a decade, the parents recruited local clergy and elected officials to join a coalition, met with Department of Education officials, and found a space for the school. As the planning process moved into the construction stage, parents continued to advocate for their vision of the school, raising money to outfit the newly constructed building with a green roof where students can garden as part of their classes.