Say Hello to Kentia Coreus

Kentia Coreus

Kentia Coreus

This summer, Challenge Charter School added a new role to the Leadership Team welcoming Kentia Coreus as Senior Director of Teaching and Learning. Before coming to Challenge, Kentia taught Literacy and ELA for grades 7-12 in Brooklyn and held several instructional leadership positions in New York and Stamford, CT. Kentia began her educational career with the New York Department of Education and has been working in public charter schools for the past 10 years.

Kentia also has five years experience working with the alternative population: over-aged students who were undercredited and missing significant requirements for graduation. In that role, Kentia used Credit Recovery methods and adapted school work around job schedules and other conflicts intrinsic to older students to help them gain their high school diplomas.

The new position of Senior Director of Teaching and Learning was designed to help Challenge form an instructional vision for Kindergarten through Grade 14, aligning our values and charter mandates to improve learning across grades K-8 and as a career-ready High School is added in 2020-21. In this role, Kentia is establishing expectations and support around teaching and learning standards.

“The goal is to maximize clarity in teaching so that we help scholars reach their educational goals, and this is a perfect time to do this as K-8 alignment aids in the planning of our High School,” Kentia noted.

The job involves a lot of interfacing with principals, teachers, and the directors at Challenge to support the overall goals of the school. As Kentia leads the way to finding the best resources to achieve growth, she recognizes how much classroom teaching has changed with the inclusion of more technology.

“I want to help keep the core of learning sacred, ensuring that students have an excellent education no matter the tools we use,” Kentia stated. “The driving question is: ‘What does an excellent education mean at Challenge, and what do we offer to scholars that is unique?’”

With the new position comes a renewed focus to have grade levels that build on one another so that scholars reap the full benefits of attending a K-14 school. In the daily life of the school, it is desired that every scholar has the opportunity to speak in class, make presentations, work on collaborative projects, and experience learning outside of the classroom. 

When she is not at work improving education, Kentia loves to cook for her family. A favorite meal they share is oxtail with rice and peas. Speaking Haitian Creole with a decent understanding of Spanish, she encourages family members who may see her in our halls to feel free to say “hello” in whatever language you speak.   

Please help us welcome Kentia Coreus to the Challenge Charter School family.

How the CPCS Garden Grows

We have carrots!

We have carrots!

This past spring, CPCS began using more green space in the yard that wraps around part of the K-5 building. Through the efforts of a committee led by Coach Reilly, the space was transformed into what became known as the Garden Oasis.

The space was beautified with a clean up, planting beds, and a new wall mural that features scholar hand prints. Almost immediately teachers were seen enjoying their short lunch breaks in the Oasis sitting at picnic tables in the sun. In May, scholars planted vegetables that grew over the summer months while they were away. 

When scholars returned in August they were delighted to see how much the carrots, peas, collard greens, peppers, string beans and pumpkins have grown. 

“Each day gardeners come out and water the plants and help weed the garden beds to teach them responsibility and how plants grow. We are also teaching about a healthy and nutritious diet. By showing scholars healthy food choices they are able to include them in their own diets and bring that information into the community,” said Reilly. 

Our first harvest!

Our first harvest!

Vegetables are not the only harvest that the school will benefit from this fall. ELL teacher Ms. Stanton will be using this wonderful hands on learning experience in an academic light. The scholars will be doing a sequence writing based upon the steps of how to grow the carrots. This project will help ELL scholars through use of language, including transition words and describing words. 

Fourth grade team Ms. Brady and Mrs. Alexander is using the garden for a reflection paper. Scholars are learning about the geography of New York and are discovering what the local land can grow. 

As short videos were captured of scholars pulling up the first carrots, their excitement was clear. For many of them, it was their first experience of working in a garden and learning how vegetables are grown. Principal Griffin loved seeing the joy scholars had while harvesting and learning new things.

“I was so excited to see our first vegetables harvested from the garden...carrots! Through the help of Coach Reilly and Ms. Stanton, scholars were able to have some as our crop was quite impressive. As students gathered the carrots, many asked about the growing pumpkins, collard greens, peppers and corn. It is our goal to create vegetable baskets for our scholars to take home. I am delighted to see the smiles on the staff and scholars faces when they are in the garden,” she said.

Thanks to Coach Reilly and the Garden Committee, generous hours from the staff, and donations from the community, the Garden Oasis is sure to bring a lot of life to the scholars of CPCS for years to come.

Welcome Back to School!

As a new school year begins, we look forward to welcoming new and returning scholars to CPCS.

Principal Griffin and all the teachers and staff have been preparing all summer for another great year of academic success. Read her welcome message to families here.

Our first day of school is Monday, August 26th, and our new school hours are 8:00A to 4:00P. The first two days, August 26th and 27th, are half days dismissing at 11:30A. Please remember that there is no OPT Bus Service until Thursday, September 5th.

Please be sure your scholar is ready with uniform compliance and grade level school supplies. Information on what you need for the 2019-20 school year can be found here.

Mark your calendars for Meet the Teacher Night on September 11th from 5:30-6:30P. And plan now to be involved with our active Parent Association. Contact K-5 Family Engagement Coordinator, Mrs. Cherry Wiggins today at her email or call 718-327-1352 ext. 121 for more information.

We can’t wait to see our scholars and their families next week. Let’s make it a great year at CPCS!

Back to school photo

Back to school photo

K-6 Summer Day Camp 2019

Our annual Summer Day Camp was held this year from July 8 through August 2. Campers in grades K-6 experienced learning through daily activities, special guests and trips. The final week featured a Camp Carnival at Bayswater Park.

Camp Director, Mrs. Janisa Vaughn led a team of teachers and staff over the four weeks. Ms. Ward-Brew provided instructional materials utilized by the teachers for the educational times. Teachers Ms. Francis, Mr. Ranger, Ms. McLean, and Ms. Harris, instructed younger campers on how to write, count, identify shapes and studied special topics such as the solar system. Older campers practiced multiplication and division, learned the fundamentals of ELA, and different reading strategies. Campers in Group D completed a research project on ways to give back to the community and save the environment.

Every day Ms. Woods ensured that the campers went home with creative artwork pieces that they created in Arts and Crafts. Ms. Hernandez taught campers how to prepare healthy snacks and treats using simple ingredients. Ms. Rosario ensured the camp had all supplies and assisted whenever needed.

Along with the emphasis on continued learning, Campers took trips to Green Meadows Farm, went bowling, and had a special presentation from The Reptile Guys.

Mrs. Vaughn expressed her gratitude to all the staff as well as CEO/Founder of Challenge Prep, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings for the resources to host the camp, and to Senior Advisor Dr. Estep who has helped organize efforts since the camp’s inception.

Several parents expressed their appreciation for the safe and fun learning environment provided by the camp.


“Thanks to all the staff you guys are awesome and it was a privilege to spend the summer with all of you…”-Parent of Prince, Group C

“I was blown away by the amount of work my son did.”-Parent of Abiel, Group D

“I could have put my child in a free summer program, but I wanted him here…”-Parent of Noah, Group B

See our gallery below for a few photos, and visit the Albums on our Facebook page for more!

2019 5th Grade Graduation

The latest graduating class of 5th Graders from Challenge Preparatory Charter School were celebrated on Wednesday, June 12th. The ceremony was held at Far Rockaway High School with parents, families, staff, and teachers in attendance.

K-5 Principal Nicole Griffin welcomed the crowd and gave an opening address to encourage the scholars citing that excellence is not an accident. She gave the scholars some advice saying, “There are 3 Gs that are the secrets to success: Growth, Generosity, and Gratitude…I thank you for the privilege of being your principal.”

Following brief inspirational addresses from Salutatorian, Blessing Oladipo and Valedictorian, Da’Saki Barango-Tariah, CEO and Founder, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings spoke to the proud families and scholars saying, “If there is any doubt about what we do, take a look at our scholars. Listen to Blessing and Da’Saki.”

Along with scholar recitations and various musical numbers led by Music Johnson, certificates and special awards were presented. Lisa George brought congratulations on behalf of Senator James Sanders.

The gallery of professional photos from the day can be found below.

Staff Appreciation Feature: Carlene Marquez-James

It’s Staff Appreciation Week at CPCS! Our Parent Association has planned a number of events to express gratitude to our Teachers and Staff. As a special feature this week, we are celebrating K-5 Principal Administrative Assistant, Carlene Marquez-James. Mrs. James helps to create the sense of family that scholars, parents and guardians, and staff enjoy at CPCS.

Our K-5 office is a busy place. What summarizes your work in a given day?

James: As the Principal’s Assistant I work closely with Principal Griffin, AP Thomas, AP Shepherd, staff, parents and visitors in plannings and meetings. My first priority is making sure the staff and scholars have all the resources and support they need to for learning, to make education interactive and fun. I also help assure parents and guardians that their scholars are in a safe and nurturing environment. 

I am very family oriented which makes it a pleasure coming to work everyday at CPCS because here at CPCS we are a family!
K-5 Principal Administrative Assistant, Mrs. James

K-5 Principal Administrative Assistant, Mrs. James

What is the best part about working at CPCS?

James: The best part of working at CPCS is seeing the scholars happy and knowing they are part of a family at school. Staff make comments like, "I love working here;" "The admin team is always here for us;" "We feel supported." About one month ago one of my parents said, "Mrs. James you are my hero. Thank you for taking care of my kids and giving me a sense of security." I am very family oriented which makes it a pleasure coming to work everyday at CPCS because here at CPCS we are a family!

Who are your major positive influencers in your life and why?

James: My biggest influencers are my eldest son Ricardo and my boss Ms. Griffin. They are always pushing me to continue my education, using all my potential and experience to the fullest. 

Challenge Charter Receives Renewal and Expansion

After a lengthy review and application process, Challenge Charter has been granted a 5-year Renewal and Expansion from the NY Department of Education. The expansion will include the addition of a Kindergarten class and approval to open a High School.

Founder and CEO, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings was happy to hear the news, and staff followed suit with their positive responses and affirmations of the school’s efforts over the 9 years since opening in 2010.

The application process involved the support of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Leadership Team, K-5 Principal Griffin and 6-8 Principal Gordon and staff throughout the K-8 school. While renewal was anticipated, the expansion is a great vote of confidence for Challenge Prep as very few new schools and expansions are being approved by the DOE due in part to the NYC Charter School cap.

Dr. Mullings has led the school through renewal applications across the school’s history. Senior Advisor, Dr. Estep followed the process closely assisting staff and administration through each step. The DOE Renewal Team visited the school for key meetings with the Board, Leadership Team, Principals and Staff, as well as classroom observations, curriculum reviews, and test and scholar data analysis.

The Kindergarten seats will be filled from the waiting list from the 2019-20 Applications and Lottery that took place in April. Plans for the High School will be ongoing as logistics such as building and staff needs are discussed.

Read the official Press Release on the Renewal and Expansion.

Cheering on Our Cheetahs

With pom poms waving and sporting our bold school colors, the Challenge Prep Cheerleaders are a key group of scholars that energetically express our school pride. Going beyond the physical aspects of cheerleading, our program is one of the ways CPCS intentionally helps to boost confidence and to help create lifelong leaders amongst our scholars. The 2018-19 squad consists of 17 bright ladies that were selected not just based on their skills but also on their academics. The squad has helped to create energy and team spirit at a number of events throughout the year, including cheering our basketball team on to a winning season.

Coach Hargrove and the 2018-19 Cheer Squad

Coach Hargrove and the 2018-19 Cheer Squad

We caught up with cheer Coach and Mentor, Ms. Adrian Hargrove, to talk to her about the squad and their growth this year. She explained her role and focus for this thriving after school program.

“It is truly a pleasure to coach and mentor such a wonderful group of young ladies. They make coaching and mentoring such an amazing experience for me. I can recall cheerleading being an outlet for me to express myself and practice self love. Cheerleading helped me to be confident, responsible, and most of all a team player. Those same key values that my coach instilled in me are the same key values I want to instill my girls.  I want to leave a lasting impression on each one of my cheerleaders, past and present, and always encourage them to be their best self.”  

Several scholars in 4th and 5th grades spoke about their experience being on the squad saying:

"Being a cheerleader is very fun. I love being a cheerleader because I like making people feel good and seeing people happy.  Being that this year was my 1st year being a cheerleader, I have got so many opportunities from performing at pep rally's, basketball games, and running bake sales.  My job as a cheerleader is to be a role model to others and to cheer others on." - Soleil Hall, Class 503

"I love Ms. Hargrove as my cheerleading coach.  Cheerleading helps me to be a better person and my coach and cheer mates are like another family to me." - Abigail Hardy, Class 403

"Cheerleading means having responsibilities, having fun, and having respect for myself and others. I joined cheerleading because I knew I wasn't going to just have fun, but I would also learn something new." - Charle Williams, Class 503

"I am the captain of the CPCS cheerleading squad. Being on the team for the past 2 years has helped me come out of my shell. Ms. Hargrove's coaching style is tough love, but I would not be this far without her.  When you cheer you express who you are, and that's what I love most about cheerleading. - Blessing Olidipo, Class 501

While athletics, teamwork, and confidence are a big part of being on the squad, academics are not forgotten. As Ms. Hargrove says, “My mottos as their coach are, ‘You’re a student before you’re a cheerleader,’  and ‘Books before Pom Poms.’ My goal as their coach is to create little ladies for our future and to cheer CPCS on to victory in anyway.”

Victory is a cheerleading program filled with Cheetah Pride that has been a benefit to CPCS scholars across the student body for several years. As Hargrove stated, “With each year, I want us to grow bigger and better. My Goal is to put CPCS cheerleaders on the map!”

2019 Lottery Recap

With only a few weeks left of school this year, we looked forward to our 2019-20 Academic Year with our annual Lottery Night on Thursday, April 11th. Led by our Director of Enrollment and Recruitment, Mrs. Tameeka Richards, and her capable team, the event was held at at our K-5 site at 710 Hartman Lane. For the first time in our school’s history, all applicants were assigned numbers electronically. The Challenge Prep Lottery is a random drawing for those wanting available seats for the upcoming school year, and on the 11th seats for around 96 openings in Kindergarten were filled. All remaining names were placed on the waiting list.

Entertainment was provided by Champ the Cheetah, our official school mascot. Puppeteer for Champ, Steve Pennington, also develops the curriculum for Project Character—a monthly word-based curriculum that teaches scholars about the importance of good character.

Our Founder and CEO, Dr. Les Mullings commented on the event saying, "We celebrated another annual Lottery and welcomed new scholars and their families to our school. This year's electronic Lottery was a great success, and I thank Mrs. Richards and her team for all their hard work. We hope to see our school grow even more with our proposed additional kindergarten class for 2019-20."

A separate Lottery was held for the few available 1st through 8th grade seats on Wednesday, April 10th. In the coming weeks, families will have to officially accept their seats and register their children for the upcoming year or forfeit their spot to other waiting families. Over 1200 families applied this season, proving the need for quality education choices for families and the continued community support for Challenge Charter School.

K-5 Summer Day Camp

It’s time to plan for summer! The K-5 Challenge Day Camp (CDC) has been offered for seven years to provide an educational adventure shaped by fun and friends, featuring STEAM, culinary arts, technology, field trips, art, tennis, soccer and lots more! The 2019 will be held July 8th through August 2nd for grades K-5.

The highly successful day camp is known for fantastic programming that features field trips, sports, crafts, STEAM activities, and exciting special features including performances by Steve Pennington and Friends for the participants. CDC draws upon the faculty and staff from Challenge Prep as well as the Far Rockaway community to serve as the CDC Team.

The regular cost of the camp is $595. You can save $100 by registering and paying in full by May 31st. Siblings receive a 10% discount. 

Register your child today! It's going to be a great summer at the CDC. 

K-5 Summer Day Camp Flyer

K-5 Summer Day Camp Flyer

K-5 CDC Spanish Flyer

K-5 CDC Spanish Flyer