By Jueseppi B.
Headmaster, Neighborhood House Charter School
Kevin Andrews is the founding headmaster of the Neighborhood House Charter School (NHCS), which opened in 1995. NHCS is a publicly-funded but independently-managed elementary and middle school; in the 2006-7 school year it will serve 380 students. The mission of the Neighborhood House Charter School is to offer quality education to a diverse community of Boston children through a neighborhood-based school that integrates education with social services and health care programs for the benefit of students and their families that otherwise have limited public educational opportunities.
Kevin Andrews has been an educator for 30 years, during which time he has taught everything from early childhood to the post-graduate level. His leadership roles have included president of the Brookline Educators Association, principal of a K-6 school in Newton, and principal of a K-8 school in Brookline. He has taught at many Boston area colleges and was an adjunct faculty member at Lesley College.
Mr. Andrews holds a B.A. in education from the University of Massachusetts and an M.Ed. from Antioch College.
While the city starts to heal after the deadly bombings during the Boston Marathon, the Neighborhood House Charter School, which both Martin Richard and his severely injured sister Jane attended and where their mother, Denise, worked as a librarian, is working with the Dorchester community to return to normalcy.
“This makes us stronger. You know we’re–there’s a lot of heart in this school, lot of family in this school. A lot of determination, resilience,” said Headmaster Kevin Andrews, who knew the Richard family well. “Everyone’s ready to give even more…. They know that they have to be strong for Jane. They have to be strong for other kids. They have to move on.”
Kevin Andrews walked the halls of the elementary school and visited Martin’s and Jane’s classrooms with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Thursday, showing the cards and gifts students have made for the two young victims of the marathon bombings. Andrews said the town of Dorchester has felt overwhelmed but will do what it takes to get the community and the school on an even keel.
Andrews told O’Donnell that the school would not have a library open if it hadn’t been for the efforts of Denise Richard. “She’s a pretty remarkable woman,” he said.
“You know the library was going to be closed down at the end of last year. We ran out of…funds, and Denise said she would even volunteer for a small salary, whatever it is.” She hosted a successful book fair that raised enough funds to open the library back up full-time.
Andrews remained hopeful that students and parents would heal soon. The deep sense of community at Neighborhood House Charter School will help, he said.
“We’re strong. We’re resilient. We’re tough. We’re ready. Love conquers hate. We’re a family. It’s a very tight family,” Andrews said. “Kids are going to feel real safe here. This is their home. That’s why it’s called Neighborhood House. It’s their house.”
“We want them to feel comforted, safe,” he said. “We’re going to take care of each other. We’re good at that.”
The FBI has been receiving calls about the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects they have identified and released photos of Thursday, describing the suspects as “armed and extremely dangerous.” During a press conference Thursday evening, investigators put out this video of the two men, both wearing baseball caps and dark jackets and carrying backpacks while walking through the crowd on Monday.
FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers, who is leading the investigation, reached out to the public for their assistance. “Today we are enlisting the public’s help,” DesLauriers said. ”The nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”
At an interfaith prayer service in Boston Thursday morning, President Obama took a moment to honor the victims, including the Richard family.
“Our prayers are with the Richard family of Dorchester, to Denise and their young daughter Jane, as they fight to recover. And our hearts are broken for 8-year-old Martin, with his big smile and bright eyes. His last hours were as perfect as an 8-year-old boy could hope for, with his family, eating ice cream at a sporting event. And we’re left with two enduring images of this little boy, forever smiling for his beloved Bruins and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: No more hurting people. Peace. No more hurting people. Peace.”
Headmaster Andrews told O’Donnell that Martin took the message he wrote on the poster board to heart.
“It’s ironic that, you know, that sign was picked up by the media during this time.”
Andrews added, “[President Obama] needs more consultants like Martin. You know, sometimes kids just get it right.”
Thank you The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.
President Barack Hussein Obama said, whichever terrorists are behind the attack on Monday picked the wrong city as a target, because Boston will not be terrorized or intimidated:
You’ve shown us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love.
Scripture teaches us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” And that’s the spirit you’ve displayed in recent days.
When doctors and nurses, police and firefighters and EMTs and Guardsmen run towards explosions to treat the wounded — that’s discipline.
When exhausted runners, including our troops and veterans — who never expected to see such carnage on the streets back home — become first responders themselves, tending to the injured — that’s real power.
When Bostonians carry victims in their arms, deliver water and blankets, line up to give blood, open their homes to total strangers, give them rides back to reunite with their families — that’s love.
That’s the message we send to those who carried this out and anyone who would do harm to our people. Yes, we will find you. And, yes, you will face justice. We will find you. We will hold you accountable. But more than that; our fidelity to our way of life — to our free and open society — will only grow stronger. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power and love and self-discipline.
After the service, President and Mrs. Obama stopped by Boston’s Cathedral High School to thank some of Boston’s first responders and volunteers for their tireless efforts over the past few days, and then the President visited patients, their families and hospital staff at Massachusetts General Hospital, while the First Lady stopped by Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
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