By Freddie Hamilton
“Bridge Street students today, America’s leaders tomorrow”, says Rev. David B. Cousin, Sr., Pastor of Bridge Street AWME Church. This gives a glimpse into the reason why he has had such a profound commitment to the support of the Bridge Street Preparatory School since his arrival in 1997 as Pastor of the church. The Prep school, located in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesant, is a grade school that serves kindergarten through 6th grade. The school has a strong Christian, Africentric, child centered program that promotes high self-esteem, the motivation to excel and a thorough understanding of the African American role in history throughout the world.
“Africentric is purposely spelled with an i, not an o because Africa is our center” says Principal Rev. Deborah Finley-Jackson. Bridge Street Prep School follows New York State Standards and is equipped with computers and other technological equipment. Enrichment activities in music, dance, art and drama are provided.
Since its inception the school has remained small with an average class size of ten students in order to provide each child with individual attention and to give each of them an opportunity to develop critical and analytical thinking skills. Teachers use hands on activities and manipulative teaching aids to help students make connections between concrete and abstract concepts. Rev. Finley- Jackson is a career educator well known for her innovative approaches to teaching that motivates children to strive to reach their full potential. Mrs. Finley- Jackson’s strong background in education together with her strong religious values has helped her to create a unique learning environment that addresses the needs of the whole child. Rev. Finley-Jackson says “Our students leave our school with a strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as an excellent understanding of the strong presence of African Americans in the development of this country”
Bridge Street AWME Church has always demonstrated a commitment to the education of African American children. In the early 1800’s African Americans began to understand that education was necessary for their children in order to compete in American society. When the free school movement began in the village of Brooklyn in 1827, the trustees of Bridge Street African Wesleyan Methodist Church opened the first free school for “colored” children. The school was later administered by the Brooklyn Common Council and in 1841 became known as the African Public School No. 1. Today that school is known as P.S. 67, located in the Fort-Greene section of Brooklyn. In 1982, then Pastor Rev. Dr. Fred A. Lucas, Jr .and his assistant Pastor Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Lucas, rekindled the vision for Bridge Street Church to provide quality education for African American children in central Brooklyn.
On Friday January 28, 2005 the Board of Trustees of the Prep school will sponsor its annual gospel show fund raiser at the church. The Prep school students will be featured. All are invited to join us. For further information contact the school at 718-455-2777.
The website is _www.bridgestreetprep.org_ (http://www.bridgestreetprep.org/)