She was 16 with a newborn. This new high school in Newark got her to graduation.

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! Read about a new alternative high school in Newark, the departure of a high-ranking NPS official, and much more.

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

P.S. We’re looking for retiring teachers to feature in an upcoming Q&A series and we need your help finding them. If you’re retiring this year or know a teacher who is, please let us know. Thanks!

The big story

LEAD Charter School is not like other high schools.

Its students range in age from 16 to 21. Most transfer in from other high schools across Newark and surrounding areas where they had fallen behind in class or gotten into trouble.

The school tries to act like an emergency responder, administering to students’ personal needs while jolting their education back to life. Its goal is for each student to leave the school in two years or less with a diploma in hand and college or job plans lined up.

One of its first students was Naysha Powell.

Two years ago, Powell was about to turn 16, had a newborn baby, and was just starting ninth grade. She was also determined to earn a diploma.

LEAD went to extraordinary lengths to help her. Each time a new obstacle blocked her path to graduation, the school found a way to remove it.

“I’m carrying boulders in my bookbag with all this stuff,” Powell said. “They’re like, ‘OK, well take the boulders out your backpack and put them in mine.’”

Find out what happened to Powell. And learn how LEAD tries to get some of Newark’s most troubled students over the finish line.

Read the story here.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

High-ranking Newark schools official leaves to run Orange Public Schools

  • What to know: Newark Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Gerald Fitzhugh II is leaving to become superintendent of the neighboring Orange school district.
  • Fitzhugh is one of Newark’s top-ranking district officials.
  • He manages the district’s assistant superintendents and oversees the Office of Teaching and Learning.
  • His departure comes just as Superintendent Roger León prepares to roll out his master plan for the district.
  • One big question: Will León elevate an insider or look outside the district to replace Fitzhugh?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.


  • In an effort to promote reading among residents, Newark libraries will give free books to middle-school students this summer. Chalkbeat, NJTV, TAPinto Newark

Arts education…

  • Fifteen Newark schools receive instruments through the VH1 Save The Music program. TAPinto Newark

Teacher of the Year…

  • Take a look inside the sixth-grade classroom of Tamara Leveridge, Newark’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. TAPinto Newark, Chalkbeat

President’s pay…

  • The retired Essex County College president who temporarily returned to help the college get back on track was only paid $30,000.

NPS news & events…

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.

Graduation rules…

  • After a legal challenge, the state has decided to allow current freshmen and sophomores to pass an alternative exam in math and English rather than the state’s standardized tests in order to graduate., NJTV,

Early childhood…

  • U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s older brother will fill a new role in the state education department overseeing preschool and early childhood education. NJ Spotlight
  • Gov. Phil Murphy wants to create a new tax on millionaires to pay for a statewide expansion of preschool, but he faces opposition from lawmakers. NJ Spotlight

Camden schools…

  • Op-ed: U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez tout recent improvements in Camden, including its rising graduation rate and new schools for families to choose from.

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details.

Project Ready

Volunteers with the group Project Ready teamed up this weekend to create 1,000 care packages for Newark seniors who are headed to college or the military.

Photo credit: Facebook/Project Ready, photographer Sasha Barnes