Founder & former principal of Bedford Academy George E. Leonard congratulates Bedford Academy for its continued success. On Dec. 3, Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Bedford Academy and praised the Bedford Model.
Bloomberg candidly stated, “We’ve shown how you can improve a major, large system with all of attributes and disadvantages and resources and problems any other city has.” He went on to say, “A bigger pool should, we think, mean lower scores, but it didn’t because it shows that we’re doing something right,” shining light on the in place structures implemented by Leonard, and continued by current principal Muhammad.
In 2007 under the leadership of George E. Leonard the first graduating class of Bedford Academy completed the full four-year program with extraordinary results: a 98% graduation rate, 90%+ attendance rate, each class member was accepted by at least two colleges, acceptances to successful pre-med, pre-law and Ivy League programs and out performing some of NYC’s “specialized “ high schools.
New York State Regent Dr. Adelaide Sanford at a City Council gathering honoring Bedford Academy acknowledged, “Bedford Academy under the leadership of Mr. Leonard and his staff has once again put to rest any question about our children’s capacity and the ability of strong leadership to fulfill the promise of our ancestors.”
As Leonard puts it, “The Bedford approach got its start in the 1980’s when he utilized a spectrum of personal insights – from his own NYC public schools experience as a student to his expertise as President and CEO of World Institute of Science and Technology – summarily creating an advanced science program which allowed typical grade-school children to pass the New York Regents science exam normally given to 9th-graders.”
The New York Times even highlighted Bedford Academy’s success where, “63 percent of the students qualify for a free lunch, a majority are being raised by a single mother … yet close to 95 percent of students graduate.” The New York Daily News also pointed out that, “Bedford Academy in Brooklyn, where roughly 90% of students earn a more rigorous Regents diploma in four years, have 84 percent and 100 percent black students respectively.”
After Leonard’s departure from Bedford Academy in 2007 he was still available as an advisor / consultant to insure a smooth transition and continuity. His results were so successful that he and his class were profiled in a PBS special. Currently he is Chief Executive Officer of Friends of Bedford, “an educational consultancy that reaches the hearts and minds of inner-city students” via the Bedford Approach.
Former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee hailed Leonard’s genius bringing him and his team to DC to effect change in her school system. Once in Washington, Leonard “provided intensive volunteer tutoring after school and worked hard to make sure students took advantage of it. The team hired and trained teachers carefully. It sought the safe and orderly school environment that brought success to the small public Bedford Academy, the school it created in Brooklyn that initially caught Rhee’s eye,” as reported by V. Dion Haynes of The Washington Post.
It made perfect sense to such a master of education that the Bedford Project would be born to replicate the success of Bedford Academy on a national level. “All of the instructional methodologies, strategies and most importantly, the leadership of Bedford Academy are present at the Bedford Project.” Washington DC schools experienced unprecedented success after the first year, but despite the efficacy of the Bedford Approach in DC schools, The Friends of Bedford were forced out due to changes in political leadership. Michelle A. Rhee speaks highly of Leonard’s Friends of Bedford, and thanks him and his team in her latest book entitled “The Bee Eater-Michelle Rhee Takes On The Nation’s Worst Schools,” by Richard Whitmire.
Leonard stands on his belief, “To teach students, educators must first reach students – inspire them to care, help them set goals and provide the support they need to get there. That’s how Friends of Bedford helps at-risk students.” For this is his vision.
He is known to go above and beyond using effective unconventional strategies to achieve extraordinary educational results for underserved children in schools such as Brownsville Mott Hall Bridges Academy where the students achieved great end results using The Bedford Approach, however Friends of Bedford received unsubstantiated and unjustified criticism from a select few within The Department of Education and questionable websites like dnainfo.com.
With such high exacting standards, impeccable credentials, a long track record of success and innovative approach to education, it’s no wonder why George E. Leonard would be an obvious prime “short list” contributor for new wave educational initiatives.