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18 to 18

Welcome to 18 to 18, my series of essays that seek to ensure that educators and Public Prep scholars identify and understand certain individual choices, that when made in sequence lead to the greatest likelihood of life success.

Since 2010, I have had the honor of being CEO of Public Prep, the nation’s oldest and only non-profit network of PreK and single-sex elementary and middle schools, educating nearly 2,000 scholars at Girls Prep Lower East Side, Boys Prep Bronx, and Girls Prep Bronx.

While Girls and Boys Prep scholars are formally enrolled with us from PreK through eighth grade, we know that to truly put them on a path to college completion and life success, Public Prep’s commitment must start even earlier than our PrePrep program for four year olds, and must last well beyond 8th grade graduation.

Indeed, Public Prep’s unique commitment to our scholars actually spans from as young as 18 months old to 18 years old.

We know that our alumni are entering a world in which factors related to race, class or gender will force them to confront extraordinary challenges while simultaneously being exposed to extraordinary opportunities.

The question is, beyond academic preparation, what will make the difference whether Public Prep scholars succumb to challenge versus thrive on opportunity?

I argue in my essays that much of the answer rests on our alumni having the personal agency — the power to control your own destiny — to make life decisions, particularly related to the sequence of education, career, faith and the timing of building a family.

These decisions are critical as our alumni embark upon the next twelve years of their lives in high school, college and young adulthood - decisions that will have lifelong impact. I hope that you find the essays enlightening and worthy of your time.

Ian Rowe