Upstate and downstate collaborate at O'Neal

Students and staff cut a ribbon

Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence eighth-grader LaTonya Stewart got a room full of people to clap along to and sing “Lean On Me” on Tuesday at a ribbon- cutting officially marking the partnership between the school and United Community Schools.

O’Neal is the eighth community school in the City School District of Albany but the first to be in collaboration with United Community Schools, a nonprofit arm of the United Federation of Teachers that until now has served community schools in New York City only.

A community school is both a traditional school that educates students and a hub that provides a range of services to families during and beyond the regular school day thanks to partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits. 

In addition to O’Neal students, staff and families and Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams, Tuesday’s event drew guests from the community and city, county and state government.

Speakers included Superintendent Adams, United Community Schools Director and UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford, New York State United Teachers Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy and University at Albany School of Social Welfare Professor Lani V. Jones, Ph.D.

The speakers praised the collaboration between upstate and downstate New York.

As O’Neal’s community school site coordinator, Julianna Obie heads up efforts to develop partnerships that will meet the needs of the O’Neal community. She created a Family Room at O’Neal and is initiating numerous programs at the school, including art therapy for students and self-care and mindfulness for staff. 

She wrapped up the comments.

“If you’re ready to try something new, run with me,” she said.

Visit our district's Facebook page to view photos from the ribbon-cutting.

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