During this extraordinary time when New York City’s educators are working closely with students and families from the confines of their homes, we will be publishing a series of posts describing their experiences in their own words. We are now #DOEconnected!
Follow our hashtag, #DOEconnected, join the conversation, and connect online with your neighbors across the City. Share stories of how you, your child, a teacher, or a school community member has become your hero. Remember, not all heroes wear capes.
Denva Nesbeth, Jr., student at Bedford Academy High School in Brooklyn
“While it was disappointing that I couldn’t have certain experiences, such as prom, and an in-person graduation (ceremony) with my friends, I was still able to make the most of the situation.”
The past few months of remote learning has been anything but “normal,” and learning in a virtual reality has definitely been a challenge for so many of our students and families across New York City. Denva Nesbeth, Jr., is one of our truly exceptional graduates of 2020 that persevered through what has been an extraordinary year.
Denva credits his teachers at Bedford Academy High School for giving him the support he needed to succeed throughout the past semester. “My Mandarin teacher and music teacher always tried to be considerate when giving us work, taking into account any potential challenges for students because of things being remote.” Throughout the months of remote learning sessions, his physical education teacher checked in with students individually to see how well they were physically and mentally, and his computer science teacher created fun projects to keep students engaged.
And Denva’s English teacher ensured that students always had enough time to talk about anything—creating real-life connections to current events as they unfolded. In light of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others, as well as the national protests that followed, Denva and his peers took time to discuss critical racial issues such as “systemic challenges that need to occur in law enforcement and how corporations are responding to the calls for change.” During these open floor conversations, “there was complete freedom to say what we felt and there was never a time where [the teachers] attempted to pivot the discussion back to a designated lesson.”
“All of my teachers at Bedford Academy did the absolute best they could to make remote learning as good as they could. From the sudden changes they had to make (in their lesson plans), I know things were hard for my teachers, so I have immense gratitude for how they persevered and worked to make things feel as normal as possible when dealing with unprecedented circumstances.”
Despite the obstacles of the last few months, Denva and his graduating class of 2020 at Bedford Academy persisted through the end of their last school year and celebrated their hard work and accomplishments!
“I was still able to reach out to my friends virtually and congratulate my friends in person when I heard the respective colleges and universities they were accepted into. I even attended a Zoom party for the first time for a close friend’s birthday, which was incredibly fun!”
This fall, Denva will attend Dartmouth College, where he intends to major in Computer Science, with a minor in Creative Writing. “I’m most looking forward to having the college experience and utilizing the information I garner to implement different ideas I have to give back and help my community.”
“All of my teachers at Bedford Academy did the absolute best they could to make remote learning as good as they could. I know things were hard for my teachers, so I have immense gratitude for how they persevered and worked to make things feel as normal as possible when dealing with unprecedented circumstances.”
As a 2019–2020 My Brother’s Keeper Fellow, Denva was involved in creating career readiness workshops for young people in underserved neighborhoods in Brooklyn where he developed a few different projects. “For example, If I was partnering with a big corporation on any endeavor, I would want to utilize the resources they have to develop scholarships, create internship opportunities for students of color, and invest in businesses and schools in communities of color.” In the near future, Denva hopes to “develop projects that employ technology to address problems I see negatively impacting low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.”
Denva is a dedicated and an inspirational student with the passion to inspire, empower, and connect his peers to change the world for the better. His commitment to service and hard work outside of Bedford Academy was recognized by the New York State Education Department this year, where he was selected to be the recipient of the prestigious Vice Chancellor Emerita Adelaide L. Sanford Scholarship Award. With the value of “I lift as I climb,” instilled in him, he has the drive and dedication to impact his community and the people around him positively.