Since October 2018, Pono has held a partnership with Westmoreland Sanctuary, a 640-acre wildlife preserve and not-for-profit nature center in Mount Kisco, New York. Westmoreland’s environmental educators design weekly lessons that engage Pono students’ curiosity for the natural world. Facilitators pose questions that guide students’ investigations of Westmoreland’s 640-acre outdoor classroom. Students have the opportunity to explore the sanctuary’s mature forest, 8.5 miles of hiking trails, pond, and Nature Museum. Lesson topics include the local area’s flora and fauna, seasonal changes, pond and forest ecology, animal anatomy, survival skills, conservation efforts, and basic chemistry. All activities strive to foster a sense of empathy for nature. Small group instruction allows students to ask questions, share observations, and recognize patterns in their natural surroundings.
New-York Historical Society Museum & Library
Pono’s mentorship program fosters in-depth, guided exploration of subjects chosen by Pono students ages six and older, allowing the children to work with experts who share their knowledge. For the Fall 2017 term, the students requested to learn more about history and art. The New-York Historical Society’s "The Art of History" program integrates both of these areas, allowing children to explore New York history through art and social studies. The Pono children examined the question, “How did the Civil War affect New York City and its residents?” with artist and educator David Zukas. He instructed the children at Pono in drawing techniques, as they created portraits of New Yorkers affected by the Civil War. David encouraged the students to consider the backgrounds of the people they drew and gave them the historical context necessary for such an exercise. As part of their mentorship, the students also participated in the New-York Historical Society’s "Social Studies Enrichment" program. History educator Paul Swartz used resources from the museum’s collections to guide the children’s exploration at Pono of the following topics: New York’s First People, Slavery in New York, the American Revolution in New York, Immigration, and New York, the New Nation. The students gained a nuanced understanding of their city’s history and of artistic expression through this Pono mentorship program.
Lydia's Magic Garden
Pono is pleased that our partnership with Lydia's Magic Garden (LMG) allows us to nurture a welcoming green space in our Harlem community. Pono children plant, water, weed, harvest, and contribute to the garden's general beautification on a regular basis.
Lydia's Magic Garden was founded in 1991 by Lydia Roman. Located between 117th and 118th Streets on Park Avenue, this beautiful garden has won the Mollie Parnis Dress Up Your Neighborhood Contest for five consecutive years (1994–1998). Various publications, including Garden Magazine, Urban Latino Magazine, The Village Voice, and El Vocero de Puerto Rico, have written about LMG. El Museo del Barrio has showcased photos of the garden, and the Museum of the City of New York featured LMG in an exhibit about New York City gardens. In 2017, Lydia's Magic Garden won a Citizens Committee for New York SWAB grant to begin a composting program and was honored by a visit from Manhattan Borough President, Gale A. Brewer, to commend the garden on its innovative composting initiative.
Since 2016, Pono has held a partnership with Harlem Grown, an independent, non-profit organization that operates local urban farms and promotes food justice, nutrition, and sustainability in Harlem. As part of our collaboration, Pono children visit Harlem Grown's 127th Street and 134th Street farms on a regular basis and carry out various responsibilities, including watering, weeding, harvesting, and composting. The students' time on the farms strengthens their connection with nature and encourages them to consider their food sources. Pono staff and children also assist Harlem Grown in their mission to serve Harlem youth through garden-based programs.
The Center for Kinesthetic Education's mission is to bring body awareness and movement into everyday life via fun, safe, and neurologically sound programming for all ages. In January 2014, Pono invited Dr. Martha Eddy, The Center's founder and director, to teach a workshop on motor development for the Pono instructors and to conduct a neurodevelopment evaluation for each Pono child. Pono and The Center for Kinesthetic Education then established a partnership based on the knowledge that motor development is vitally tied to a child’s ability to sequence both body and thought, and therefore to learning and greater quality of life.
Pono and The Center for Kinesthetic Education monitor and support each Pono child’s motor development through quarterly sessions that include neurodevelopment screenings with Dr. Eddy and individualized recommendations for activities designed to develop particular motor skills. Dr. Eddy provides Pono teachers and parents with valuable insights into each child's development and helps them make practical use of her information in the students' daily lives.
Dr. Eddy also regularly provides movement classes to parents, teachers, and children at the Pono space. We invite you to come and move with us. It's an opportunity to untie any knots, both physical and mental.
Pono's partnership with Storefront Science offers Pono children of all ages an inquiry-based, hands-on science program. Storefront Science's mission is to engage children through wonder and discovery in science, and to encourage exploration by fostering a process of questions, information gathering, cooperation, and critical thinking.
Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, the founder and president of Storefront Science and a science educator for more than 20 years, has taught lessons at Pono on topics including the human body, the periodic table, geology, symbiosis, atoms, insects, and electricity, each at the request of the students. Dr. Ardizzone, or "Dr. A," believes that science should be fun, engaging, and shared with children in ways that invigorate their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). She teaches creative problem solving and critical thinking through hands-on/minds-on activities and actively encourages questions, which empower students to design experiments and develop necessary science skills.
Children's Museum of the Arts
Pono's partnership with the Children's Museum of the Arts (CMA) was inspired by the Pono children's request to visit this exceptional not-for-profit organization on a weekly basis. CMA's mission is based on the belief that the arts are critical to child and youth development and to strong and vibrant communities. CMA's goal is to inspire and champion the next generation of artists and art lovers, by providing authentic hands-on art experiences for children with working artists.
In 2012, the Pono–CMA partnership took the form of weekly sessions with CMA teaching artist Kate Fox. She guided and mentored the young Pono artists through engaging art projects in a range of techniques and media. The projects reflected the interests expressed by the children. Kate also facilitated interactions with other teaching artists.
Founded in October 1988 by Kathleen Schneider, CMA has been located in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood since its inception. The Pono–CMA partnership sessions took place at the CMA's beautiful facility on Charlton Street.
During the 2011–2012 school year, Pono enjoyed a partnership with STREB, a New York-based dance company. STREB dancers combine virtuosity and technical skill to create performance that are a mixture of "slam dancing, exquisite human flight, and a wild action sport." (STREB website)
The Pono–STREB Partnership took place at SLAM–STREB Lab for Action Mechanics, the dance company's home in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The purpose of the partnership was for the children to explore movement in a nontraditional way, while investigating scientific principles of the body and creating their own “action ideas.” While the classes were open-ended, responding to the interests of the children for that day, the STREB dancers also guided the children by modeling activities, teaching specific physical skills, and supporting the children’s own playful creativity. The Pono children worked with STREB's Associate Artistic Director, Fabio Tavares, as well as Daniel Rysak, Felix Hess, and Jackie Carlson, who provided weekly lessons for the duration of the partnership. The Pono children also watched their instructors and other STREB dancers invent and test action ideas as a group with the company's director, Elizabeth Streb.
Since its founding by choreographer Elizabeth Streb in 1985 in New York City, the company "has traveled, artistically as well as geographically, from the heights of the experimental dance world to the cutting-edge of popular entertainment" (from STREB website).
STREB has performed in theaters large and small and served as artists-in-residence at the world's top art museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and Los Angeles MOCA.