About The Harlem Prep Project


It all started one afternoon...

when, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, I stumbled across a vaguely titled DVD, "Step by Step: The Story of Harlem Prep." On a whim, I popped it in the DVD player, and watched this documentary -- I was immediately inspired and deeply moved. As a then-new graduate student studying the history of education who worked with high school youth in Harlem, I wondered: why had I not heard of this remarkable institution before? Nowhere in my research on Harlem education in the 1960s and 1970s had I came across Harlem Prep.

For the last couple of years, ever since that day, I have been researching more about Harlem Prep. As I have continued my graduate studies at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, I believe, more than ever, that the story of this extraordinary school needs to be told. Fortunately, there has been some amazing progress uncovering Harlem Prep's history, thanks to the efforts of a former assistant principal, Dr. Hussein Ahdieh, and many other alumni. However, there is still so much that is yet to be known -- fascinating questions about "teaching and learning," educational philosophies, community-building, and the untapped potential of young people that I am working to answer in my research in the years to come.

Most importantly, and above all, where are Harlem Prep students (and staff) today? How can we collect the stories -- the anecdotes, the memories, the mementos -- of hundreds of alumni? There have also been efforts to bring Prep alumni together and assemble memories, but, no single "space" for these efforts to converge. Let's change that! Together, we can reach the goal of recording the legacy -- your legacy -- and "uncover" the history of this school and share it with the world.

This website is a true work-in-progress, so please reach out to me for any questions, suggestions, or concerns!