Moe Mpela SITE DIRECTOR, BROOKLYN COLLEGE AT BUSHWICK HIGH SCHOOL, Brooklyn College Community Partnership for Research and Learning. As site director of BCCP’s afterschool program at Bushwick High School since its inception in September 2001, Moe Mpela has created and nurtured a growing program serving students in one of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. Under his guidance, the award-winning Project Peace Program, which addresses alternatives to violence, conflict resolution, and community service through writing and the arts, has enabled students from all four divisions of Bushwick’s high schools to come together and address issues that affect the entire school and community.
Moe builds relationships between the staff and students based on trust and mutual respect, helping students focus on their academic achievement and long-term goals. When the school administered the PSAT in fall 2002, 19 students sat for the exam. When BCCP offered the test in 2003, 124 students took advantage of the opportunity. In 2004, that group grew to more than 150 young people. The school and BCCP attribute this dramatic increase to Moe and his staff, who foster students’ belief in themselves and their abilities, and enable young people to push themselves to new heights.
No matter what obstacles arise, Moe keeps his staff and himself focused on serving the young people. Combining intuition, people skills, and the ability to keep both the big picture and the flying details in mind, Moe is a true leader and role model.
The community of respect, encouragement, and high expectations Moe fosters at BCCP provides young people the foundation they need to believe in and maximize their own potential. His success stories prove that college is possible for young people who never considered it an option, many of whom are the first in their families even to graduate high school.
Born in South Africa, Moe came to the United States at age 12 unable to speak or read English. Nonetheless, he attended St. John’s University, where he received his BA and MA in history. Before coming to BCCP, he worked at St. Thomas Aquinas College and with Hofstra University’s Upward Bound Program, which serves high school students who are first generation, potential college graduates. Moe is a role model for students, colleagues, and youth workers around the city seeking to make substantive change in young people’s lives.