Founder Of Local Charter School To Be Honored On Queen Latifah Show
By Syma Chowdhry
CAMDEN (CBS) — Queen Latifah honored teachers on her daytime talk show that airs on CBS3.
“It’s Teacher Appreciation Day!”
She invited Dr. Gloria Santiago, who is the founder of LEAP Academy Charter school in Camden.
“The first question was how do I do this work and why. What motivates me to do this work and the second question was about the success of the school.”
LEAP Academy is K through 12th grade.
Students are chosen by a lottery and must maintain a certain GPA to stay in school.
The show was taped last week and Santiago watched the episode for the first time at a viewing party with her students.
Queen Latifah is from Newark, New Jersey and Santiago felt a connection with her right away.
“To meet someone like Latifah who comes from a city like Newark. It was exciting but I was also looking forward to the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with her about this work.”
Not only was Dr. Santiago excited to talk about Leap Academy, she also told Queen Latifah that all of her high school seniors are graduating and going off to college, two particular students received special scholarships.
Student Cindy Le said, “Once I found out that I got a scholarship, I was screaming ‘Oh my God, oh my God!'”
Cindy Le and her best friend Destiny Bingham are both recipients of the Gates Millennium scholarship, which is only rewarded to 1,000 students nationally.
Cindy will attend Rutgers and Destiny will go to UPenn this fall.
Both say it’s all thanks to LEAP Academy.
Bingham said, “LEAP has helped me substantially with my success.”
For Dr. Santiago, being on the show meant breaking down stereotypes about kids in Camden.
“I want people to know that kids from Camden can be anything they want to be. They can go to an Ivy League school, which they are going. I want to put Camden in a wonderful positive way.”
She is relaying that message one talk show at a time.