In 2012, Newark education officials set out to reform their city’s lowest-performing schools. The Hechinger Report was granted extraordinary access to one of them, Quitman Street Renew School, to chronicle its successes and setbacks. Our ongoing series, which has won numerous journalism awards, goes behind the scenes as Principal Erskine Glover and his staff take on one of the hardest –– and most important –– jobs in the nation.


Surrounded by messy school reform and ‘drama’ on the streets, a Newark girl tries to land on her feet

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK, N.J. –– Nydresha is a small girl with big dreams about Hawaii. In her dreams, the 12-year-old and her mother live in a beach house. There is peace, and there is quiet. There is no drama, no abandoned houses and no cursing –– not even by Nydresha herself. She curses sometimes in real life […]

Hidden successes, public shortfalls and a make-or-break year for one Newark school

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK, N.J. –– Erskine Glover was home recovering from hip replacement surgery last summer when the scores arrived. The principal of Quitman Street Renew School knew based on internal assessments that more than 80 percent of his students had shown growth during the 2012-2013 academic year. But he also knew that most were still not […]


A Newark school leader’s urgency to renew

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK—This is what Erskine Glover considers a lazy Wednesday morning: He wakes up at 5 a.m. instead of his usual 4:30, flips the television to SportsCenter on ESPN, and eats a fried egg white and a toasted waffle before leaving for work at 6:45. By then, the principal of Quitman Street Renew School normally would […]

Second-grade teacher Alicia Wiltshire has exceeded Principal Erskine Glover's expectations with a strong work ethic and passion compensating for lack of experience. (For NJSPOTLIGHT/Amanda Brown)

Perseverance at a Newark school following midyear teacher turnover

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK — The first teacher to go was grieving over the death of a loved one. Those who followed gave reasons more directly tied to frustrations at the school: long hours taking a toll on family life, the minimal pay increase when the academic day was extended in January, feeling discounted in curricular decisions. One […]

Celita Green works with Daniel Sanchez. With three aides to assist her in a class of eight children, she can spend time teaching students one on one. (Photo by Amanda Eagen Brown)

Special education expansion brings challenges, hope to Newark school

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK, N.J. — Four boys and four girls sit quietly along a cafeteria bench, focused on their trays of lunch: turkey with gravy and sweet potatoes, and cartons of 1 percent milk. They are 10 and 11 years old, but one still needs a reminder to use a fork or spoon rather than his fingers […]

Quitman eighth-grader Amiatta Amara was initially intimidated by students coming from Wilson but said everyone "rose above." (Photo by Amanda Murphy)

‘A blessing in disguise,’ as two schools forge unlikely friendship

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK, N.J. — Two miles separating two schools were far enough that students and parents had never met, yet close enough that they had made up their minds about one another. To the west of the railroad tracks and McCarter Highway sat Quitman Street Community School: low test scores, predominantly African-American, a crime-ridden neighborhood. To […]

(Photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Newark’s school turnaround strategy changes course

By Sara Neufeld

She thought of herself as an ordinary mother of four, one who did what she could to advocate for her kids in Newark public schools. But Carol Tagoe’s advocacy caught the eye of a New York University education reformer. And suddenly, the disarmingly friendly Trinidad native was working for the Newark Global Village School Zone, […]

Photo by Amanda Murphy

The life and death of Newark’s Eighteenth Avenue School

By John Mooney

After more than 130 years in Newark’s Central Ward, the Eighteenth Avenue School didn’t open its doors to new and returning students yesterday. The demise of the once-stately brick building is indicative of what’s happening  in cities across the country: enrollment down to 250, walls and infrastructure well past their years, student test scores on […]

Stephanie Ruff, the school's parent liaison, provides families with various social supports and spends evenings door-knocking to get parents involved at Quitman. “I believe at the end of the rainbow, there’s gonna be a pot of gold,” she says. (Photo by Amanda Murphy)

Can handpicked teachers turn around an underperforming school?

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK, N.J. — It was a fight to the finish, but Erskine Glover can honestly say he’s happy with the team of teachers who will be instructing his students this fall. Glover, principal of what’s momentarily known as Quitman Street Renew School, had a grueling summer interviewing more than 100 candidates for instructional positions, with dozens more […]

Children play in a physical education class at Quitman Street Community School. (Photo by Stephen Nessen, WNYC)

A Newark school prepares—again—to reinvent itself

By Sara Neufeld

NEWARK, N.J.—Erskine Glover has interviewed for his job as principal of Quitman Street Community School three times in the past two years—undergoing a total of 15 hours of questioning. With his latest rehiring a few weeks ago, he was given authority to decide which of his teachers will return for another year with him. Glover […]

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