Co-founder of New Design High School speaks at Brown Bag Series

Joe Morganti, Reporter

The English Education Brown Bag Lecture Series is an ongoing speaker series sponsored by the English Education Student Association at SUNY Buffalo State. The series features talks by Buffalo State faculty as well as local and national educational researchers that focus on issues that impact teaching, and learning.

On April 7, The Brown Bag Speaker Series hosted Alice Pennisi in Ketchum Hall.

Alice Pennisi is an associate professor and chair of art education at Buffalo State. She has been an art, science, and social studies teacher. As well as an arts integration specialist in New York City, where she co-founded New Design High School. Pennisi started the event by saying:

“New Design High School is a vigorous life preparatory design high school that empowers students with the skills, tools, and capacities to create attainable life plans.”

Pennisi went on to explain how New Design High School works. Rather than a typical high school, New Design is a youth development shop where, in addition to their academic responsibilities, students develop problem-solving, critical thinking and social-emotional skills. New Design is a college preparatory school that uses the concept of design to assist in meeting the needs of teens.

The school believes that design and design processes allow students to engage in an easier way of learning. It is located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

In 2003, New Design took over the fourth floor of 350 Grand Street. New Design’s founders transformed the space and the instructional expectations.

The rooftop of the building is the size of one city block and is in the shape of the letter E. The top of the roof is covered by a steel structure and windows covered with metal grates surround the walls. The rooftop also contains the “Rooftop Legends,” where legends of urban art come together to create an outdoor museum space to celebrate art.

Later on in the event, Pennisi gave an example of how successful New Design High School is. A kid who failed his social studies exam took a New Design course for social studies in the summer. The course showed the student how to learn social studies through rap. Because of this, not only did the student learn, the student ended up passing the exam. Pennisi restated:

“This is just one example of how successful New Design High School is.”

The event concluded with Pennisi introducing different faculty of New Design High School, including Principal Scott Conti who has been with New Design since they formed and gave the audience an opportunity to ask questions.


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