NYC’s Haven Academy, a Bronx Breakthrough Serving Kids in Foster Care That Carmen Farina Has Yet to

There are several must-stops on a tour of the country’s very best charter schools: In California, High Tech High schools are flat out striking, and Summit founder Diane Tavenner may be personally re-inventing American high schools.

In Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, seeing an IDEA school in action is inspiring (Take your passport; don’t ask why, just do it). Newark’s North Star Academy may have the busiest visit/scheduler in the country. Boston has too many great charters to choose from (Okay, Brooke is a personal favorite) and a KIPP school anywhere warrants a visit just to see its unique student culture in motion.

A new addition to the top of my personal must-see list: New York’s Mott Haven Academy. Who? That’s an understandable reaction.

For starters, Haven Academy has a decidedly unglamorous spot, located squarely in the nation’s most impoverished congressional district, the South Bronx. To get there, you take the 6 train to Brook Avenue, walk down the hill amidst the high rise projects and veer right just before colliding with the grimy Bruckner Expressway.

Once arrived (the building is great, by the way), some might consider the Haven Academy student body a bit, well, challenging. A third of the students are living in foster homes, another third are “involved” with the foster care system (aka: Preventive Services) and another third are drawn from the neighborhood.

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