Founding History

Rooted in the DNA of every child's life are seeds of greatness wrapped in the form of gifts, talents and abilities waiting for the opportunity to be unlocked, discovered, explored and celebrated. Quite often our gifts, talents and abilities lead us to discover our purpose in ways we never expected.

In 1989 Dr. A.R. Bernard, CEO and Founder of Christian Cultural Center and his wife, Karen decided to create and implement a plan of action that would contribute to the success of children in the educational process. They established an early childhood education program to shape what many believe to be the most formative years of a child's learning experience, preK-1st grade. For 16 years, the Brooklyn Prep students have performed consistently in the 90-99th percentile in reading and math. This is a result of creating a learning environment that fosters growth and development with excitement as well as results.

Under the leadership of Principal Midgette, we are helping students make the connection between education and successful living. It is based in the philosophy that true wealth (knowledge) is portable. Education not only empowers them, but also becomes the basis for resilience and the sustaining of success in life. This is a critical philosophical paradigm shift for the communities the school will serve. The expected result is an educational culture of students who accept responsibility for their future and leave with strong values of family, education and community, high achievers with high self-worth and a healthy self-image! Students must have a knowledge base upon which they can build and acquire skills in the use of that knowledge. The incorporation of content and skills is at the core of the educational program. Students must be prepared for a highly competitive, information-based marketplace and "intellectual capital" is the key to their success.

Dr. Bernard's vision and leadership of Christian Cultural Center has created a local and international reputation for excellence in the area of cultural arts: dance, drama, music, and stepping, as well as teaching. The Voices of CCC's singing experiences have availed them opportunities to share stages with Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, and Melba Moore to name a few. They have also performed at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater, Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. The CCC Choir has performed abroad in Vienna, Austria. Most recently the choir won 2nd place in the choir competition "Days of International Choir Music" in Verona, Italy. The CCC Band has provided background for Gladys Knight, Smoky Robinson and grand pianist and international television host Dino Kartsonakis. CCC has participated in cultural events celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King sponsored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and by The Israeli Consulate, in addition to NY City's Gala Tourist Promotion celebrating Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In 2008, the Choir also performed at the following events:

• Brooklyn Academy of Music, Martin Luther King Celebration

• Office of the Mayor, Notes of Hope 9/11 Commemorative Dinner

• Office of the Mayor, NYC Tourist Promotion

Additionally, the CCC drama department produced sold-out performances of "The Wiz" and "Annie" for the East New York community. Future expansion on the 4.5 acre of land adjacent to the Cultural Center will include a 500-seat theatre for the performing arts as well as other community development projects. Dr. Bernard has supported public education in the East New York communities by:

• Encouraging innovative and carefully monitored reform efforts in the public school system, paying particular attention to governance, funding, accountability, and assessment. Dr. A.R. Bernard sits on the NYC Department of Education Chancellor's Advisory Committee.

• Emphasizing books and literacy; calling for the broad availability of all age-appropriate materials and books in public school libraries; and encouraging schools to include information which will broaden students' understanding of human life all over the world. Dr. A.R. Bernard has served on the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Public Library and he has established a literacy program that teaches adults to read.

• Initiating programs in cooperation with the public schools to provide after-school and vacation help, enrichment and adopt-a-school programs, and literacy and reading emphases. Dr. A.R. Bernard set up a tutoring program called Synergies for Success that is open to all students for assistance in all aspects of academic intervention services, and has adopted schools in the East New York community.

• Advocating at the state level for adequate school funding and equitable distribution of state funds and encouraging education about local funding ballot issues.

Vision can provide for vision. Dr. Bernard, CEO and Founder of Christian Cultural Center, his wife, and award-winning educator Laurie Midgette, decided to combine their visions to create a model for public education in the deserving East New York community. From voices in education, business, and government there is a need to provide students with new and different skills to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Laurie Midgette believes that if we are ever to truly reform public education in New York City and this nation, there must be a paradigm shift from regulatory compliance to a moral imperative. It will take all types of leadership to accomplish this task, personally.

Laurie Midgette was a ward of the state of New York in the Nassau County Department of Social Services foster care system for 18 years. After this experience and 20 years of service in the NYC public school system, she affirms that it is, indeed, the moral imperative of this nation to provide every child with an exemplary, standards-driven education. As an educator that chose to spend her entire career at inner city schools in need, Laurie Midgette has many lessons to share and a personal perspective that is aligned with the voices of underprivileged children that cannot speak for themselves. Her educational background is private and public, suburban and urban. She has served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal. These experiences made her know that it was time for her to create a public school of excellence.

Laurie Midgette was asked to serve as the last principal of a large urban high school that had a history of failure. It was part of the trend of large schools that are being phased out and transformed into smaller learning communities. It was her responsibility to lead that change. This school became a model for urban reform in New York City that resulted in winning $20,000 in performance bonuses for improving the academic performance of the students in the school. She served as the lead principal and campus manager as the school was transitioned into a campus of small schools. Part of this process meant collaborating with the other principals to construct a fair and equitable campus agreement for using shared space.

It was when Ms. Midgette had the opportunity to study at the Principals' Center at Harvard University in 2004, where she became transformed by the provocative teaching from voices that have a vested interest in true and total educational reform. When Laurie Midgette looks at the children that she has been privileged to serve, she cannot help but think that their life could have been hers. These children have no union and their voices are quelled by the loudness of bureaucracy and politics. Looking ahead to the 21st century, it was her desire to create a school that prepares students to not only succeed, but to excel.

The vision of Cultural Arts Academy at Spring Creek is to provide a model for excellence in public education using the cultural arts as a tool to stimulate learning and create a value for education in minds of its students. The programming and curriculum is specifically designed to help students make the connection between education and successful living. It is based in the philosophy that true wealth is portable it is knowledge (ARB, 2010). Education not only empowers children, but also becomes the basis for resilience and the sustaining of success in life. This is a critical philosophical paradigm shift for the communities the school will serve. The expected result is an educational culture of students who accept responsibility for their future and leave with strong values of family, education and community, high achievers with self-worth and a healthy self-image!