Partnership for After School Education


Jim Pugliese of Learning through an Expanded Arts Program, Inc. (LEAP) at JHS 22 in the South Bronx believes that all children are capable of attaining success when provided with a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment. His program fosters academic and artistic success, increases students’ involvement and attendance, builds their self-confidence and creativity, and helps them forge positive relationships with peers and adults.

In a community stricken with poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, and gang violence, LEAP and JHS 22 are a remarkable story of success. Working with unconventional principal Shimon Waronker, Jim and his program helped accomplish the turnaround of one of the twelve most violent schools in New York City. At risk of being closed down when Jim came to the school, JHS 22 received an “A” grade last year from the New York City Department of Education, which stated in its report that “the after-school program provide[s] reinforcement to raise student achievement.”

The middle school years are a turning point in a child’s development, both academically and socially; students in this age group often lack self-confidence and need frequent encouragement and guidance. Jim gives students the support they need to experience academic success, starting a pattern of achievement and breaking cycles of frustration and low performance. He is able to provide the positive environment needed for students to develop healthy self-images and social skills.

Through personalized tutoring and engaging activities such as martial arts, drumming, mural painting, violin instruction, fashion design, and graphic design, Jim encourages intellectual exploration and helps build self-esteem. He manages, teaches, inspires, and creates a safe setting that fosters self-confidence and actively engages young people in their own education, helping them achieve a sense of accomplishment and leading them toward a true love of learning.

Jim is also an accomplished drummer, percussionist, composer, and international recording artist who has worked with the Philip Glass Ensemble, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. His latest CD – “Phase III Live @ Issue Project Room NYC” – was just awarded “Best New Release of 2008” by All About Jazz Magazine NYC.