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Public Prep


Each classroom at Public Prep schools is named after an inspirational individual. These classroom “namesakes” are selected as outstanding men and women of achievement whom Public Prep students can identify with, look up to, and study.

Our namesakes wear many hats; many are known for accomplishments across sectors. Here is a list of our namesakes arranged into groups by the fields in which they first became known as trailblazers and influential role models – although many defy categorization as they belong in a league of their own!


Captain Brenda Berkman with her Namesake Classroom
  • Bella Abzug: Social activist and a leader in the women’s movement
  • Jane Addams: Pioneer settlement social worker
  • Brenda Berkman: First female firefighter in the FDNY
  • Ruby Bridges: Activist known for being the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South
  • Majora Carter: Urban revitalization strategist
  • Angela Davis: American political activist, scholar, and author
  • Marion Wright Edelman: Activist for the rights of children
  • Dolores Huerta: Civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association
  • Helen Keller: Political Activist and Lecturer
  • Wangari Maathai: Kenyan environmental and political activist
  • Emily May: Activist to combat street harassment
  • Rigoberta Menchu Tum: Activist for rights of Guatemala's indigenous peoples; 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient
  • Suraya Pakzad: Women’s rights activist from Afghanistan
  • Soujourner Truth: African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist
  • Ida B. Wells: African-American civil rights and women's rights activist, journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, and sociologist
  • Malala Yousafzai: Education activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Pakistan

Actors, Singers, and Performers

Oprah Winfrey visits her third grade class in May 2015.

  • Marian Anderson: Opera Singer
  • Julia Child: Chef: Author, and Television Personality
  • Willie Colon: Bronx born musician and social activist
  • Ellen DeGeneres: television host, comedienne, actress
  • Katherine Dunham: Dancer, Choreographer
  • Tina Fey: Actress, Comedian, Writer
  • Aretha Franklin: Singer and Musician
  • Whoopi Goldberg: Award-winning Actress, Comedian
  • Gwen Ifill: Journalist, Co-anchor of PBS NewsHour
  • Judith Jamison: Dancer, Choreographer, Known as the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Tania León: Composer
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail: composer-star and director of both the Tony Award-winning "In the Heights," and the upcoming musical "Hamilton"
  • Rita Moreno: actress and Singer
  • Jessye Norman: Grammy award-winning Opera Singer
  • Amy Poehler: American actress, comedian, voice artist, director, producer, and writer; creator of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, an online community for young girls and the young at heart, which encourages women in volunteerism and activism
  • Nina Simone: singer
  • Maria Tallchief: America’s first major prima ballerina with the New York City Ballet
  • Betty White: Actress, comedian, and television personality
  • Oprah Winfrey: Actress, Journalist, Television Personality,and Philanthropist


Billie Jean King visits her first grade class in May 2015.

  • Gabby Douglas: American gymnast and 2012 Olympic gold medalist
  • Derek Jeter: American baseball shortstop, playing his final season for the New York Yankees
  • Billie Jean King: Professional Tennis Player and winner of 39 Grand Slam titles
  • Michele Roberts: director of the NBA’s Player Union
  • Jackie Robinson: the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in America
  • Wilma Rudolph: Winner of three gold medals in the 1960 Summer Olympics in track and field
  • Pat Summitt: Basketball coach


  • Maya Angelou: Poet and author, best known for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Eve Bunting: Award-winning children’s author of hundreds of books, including Smoky Night and Fly Away Home
  • Sandra Cisneros: Author known for The House on Mango Street
  • Emily Dickinson: American poet
  • Toni Morrison: author best known for her novels "The Bluest Eye", "Sula", "Song of Solomon", and "Beloved"
  • Patricia Polacco: Author and illustrator of children’s books
  • JK Rowling: Author of the Harry Potter series and other notable books
  • Esmeralda Santiago: Author of novels and memoirs, including America's Dream and When I was Puerto Rican


Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum and Ian Rowe after Dr. Tatum gave the keynote address to the 2014 eighth grade graduates at Girls Prep LES Middle School.

  • Mary Mitchell: Senior Vice President at Scholastic in Strategic Marketing for Education
  • Ruth J. Simmons: President of Brown University
  • Beverly Daniel Tatum: President of Spelman College and celebrated author of Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (2007) and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race (1997).


Joan Ganz Cooney with the 2012 Third Grade Girls Prep Bronx Choir at the Second Annual Namesake Luncheon, where Joan Ganz Cooney was honored.

Ursula Burns visiting her Namesake Classroom.

  • Jill Abramson: Former Editor in Chief of The New York Times
  • Leanna Archer: Founder and CEO of hair product line, Leanna's, Inc. at 9 years old; founded the Leanna Archer Education Foundation for underprivileged children in Haiti
  • Ursula Burns: CEO of Xerox
  • Joan Ganz Cooney: Co-Founder of the Sesame Workshop, the organization famous for the creation of the children's television show Sesame Street
  • Joe Echevarria: former CEO of Deloitte LLP and current Chair of President Obama's My Brothers Keeper Alliance
  • Peter Peterson: the 20th United States Secretary of Commerce, investment banker, and philanthropist

Politicians and Civil Servants

Caroline Kennedy reading to Girls Prep LES Elementary School students.

Fernando Ferrer visits his Namesake class at Boys Prep in 2017.

  • Hillary Clinton: Former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States
  • Fernando Ferrer: former Borough President of the Bronx, during his term the Bronx saw a significant drop in crime,and a steady rise in business and real estate
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the second female justice and the first Jewish female justice
  • Justice Elena Kagan: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
  • Caroline Kennedy: Author, attorney, and the current United States Ambassador to Japan
  • Barack Obama: 44th President of the United States, and the first African American to hold the office
  • Michelle Obama: Lawyer, Writer, and First Lady of the United States
  • Condoleezza Rice: former Secretary of State
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: Politician and Human Rights Activist
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: President of Liberia
  • Hon. Sonia Sotomayor: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Scientists and Men and Women in STEM

  • Patricia Bath: Ophthalmologist, Inventor
  • Marie Curie: Noble Prize winning physicist and chemist who conducted research on radioactivity
  • Paul Farmer: American anthropologist and physician,best known for his humanitarian work providing suitable health care to rural and under-resourced areas in developing countries
  • Rosalind Franklin: scientist – biophysicist and x-ray crystallographer
  • Jane Goodall: Primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist known for her work with chimpanzees
  • Temple Grandin: Doctor of animal science, Professor at Colorado State University, autism activist, and author of Thinking in Pictures
  • Mae Jemison: Astronaut and the First African-American woman to travel in outer space
  • Maryam Mirzakhani: professor of mathematics and Fields Medal Winner
  • Ellen Ochoa: Astronaut and the first Hispanic woman to go to outer space
  • Lillian Wald: Nurse, humanitarian, and author known for founding community nursing and the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side

Visual Artists and Architects

Faith Ringgold visiting her Namesake Classroom on her birthday in 2010.

  • Chakaia Booker: Artist and Sculptor
  • Elizabeth Catlett: Sculptor and Printmaker
  • Zaha Hadid: Architect, known for neofuturistic buildings
  • Frida Kahlo: painter
  • Maya Lin: Architect and Designer, known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Faith Ringgold: Artist and Writer, known for her painted story quilts
  • Sisterhood
  • Scholarship
  • Responsibility
  • Merit

Public Prep Network, Inc.

  • 441 East 148th Street
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  • Bronx, NY 10455
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  • T: 212-346-6000
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  • F: 212-346-9096
  • Upper Campus (3-4)
  • |
  • 1695 Seward Avenue, Room 219
  • |
  • Bronx, NY 10473
  • |
  • T: 718-860-8774
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  • F: 718-860-8777
  • |
  • Lower Campus (K-2)
  • |
  • 1025 Morrison Avenue
  • |
  • Bronx, NY 10472
  • |
  • T: 718-328-5684
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