Bronx Community College’s Director of Collaborative Programs Eugene Adams has higher education in his blood. Whenever he can, he’s figuring out how to strengthen education models that expand learning opportunities. As the director of collaborative education programs at Bronx Community College (BCC), Adams oversees partnerships with over 25 schools and serves 2,000 students annually. He is a specialist in educational partnership building and curriculum design.
Soon after BCC completed the semester with graduation, he took off for another graduation almost 4,000 miles away with two Bronx Community College students — Jerdene Allen and Timothy Roulhac.
This graduation was for the Senegalese-American Bilingual School (SABS), a small Pre-K through twelfth grade school in Dakar that serves 700 students. The school is headed by Stephanie Nails-Kane, an African-American living in Senegal with her Senegalese husband and four daughters.
“I met Ms. Nails-Kane 10 years ago when I was on vacation with my daughter who was seven-years-old. Nails-Kane had just started SABS. She was enthusiastic about building her curriculum. We had a few discussions initially. The discussions soon became an informal collaborative partnership. I suggested some educational ideas that she might explore,” says Adams.
“Now, 10 years later, when I went back I saw that she had implemented some of those ideas and others to build an intellectually engaging curriculum,” he continues.
Adams became a supporter of SABS and an adopted member of the Nails-Kane family. In collaborating with Nails-Kane and her predominately Senegalese teaching staff, Adams shared many of his Bronx strategies –learned while managing very successful academic enrichment models such as Upward Bound, Liberty Partnership, College Now, and GEAR UP — to assist in the development of SABS’s middle and high school curriculums.
Over the years, BCC has brought SABS and the University of Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) faculty to visit the Bronx campus. Cheikh Anta Diop is Senegal’s most well-known university. According to Adams, many U.S. colleges and universities actively recruit Senegalese math students who demonstrate an aptitude and mastery of mathematical skills.
Today SABS has more than 700 students from over 25 countries. The school has graduated six senior classes. SABS is the premier international school in Senegal with a dual Senegalese and American academic curriculum that meets the learning standards of both countries.
What started out as a design for a private international school is now being considered by high level government officials as the trend for future education in Senegal. SABS graduates are currently attending U.S. universities that include Howard University, Towson University, Morgan State, Florida Memorial University, and The City University of New York. Of the 30, 2009 SABS graduates continuing on with their higher education studies, 22 have been accepted in U.S. universities.
On June 24, SABS held its annual graduation for pre-K, sixth grade, and high school. Over 400 family members and friends attended the well-known and unusual celebration, which was held at the UCAD. Adams says the occasion was a mix of traditional graduation ceremonial speeches augmented by spontaneous performances by contemporary Senegalese hip-hop artists. As the featured speaker, Adams urged graduating students, family and friends to continue to build strong African and American educational partnerships. He emphasized the importance of Senegalese students who attend American universities to apply their skills and knowledge to further developing Senegal and other African countries. Before concluding, he added that “Bronx Community College is hoping to strengthen its educational collaboration with SABS and the University of Cheikh Anta Diop.”
Allen, Roulhac, and Dara Adams, Adams’ daughter and a student at Howard University, volunteered at the SABS graduation, participated in a workshop for eleventh and twelfth graders on education at U.S. universities, chaperoned the SABS high school prom, and took part in some of the SABS teacher professional development sessions on environmental education at the Nguero Mangrove Biodiversity Center.
“The audience was literally singing and dancing in the aisles. I’ve attended scores of graduations in New York, but I’ve never seen one as colorful and community interactive as this,” states Adams. He and the two BCC students agreed that their trip has changed how they look at Africa. Because of their experiences in Senegal, they say, their perspectives on education development have changed.