Author Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, a Puerto Rican child of migrant farm workers, defied family, tradition, and expectations to reach the highest ranks of academia and overcome monumental obstacles to create LEAP Academy, one of the nation’s best charter schools.
In The Miracle on Cooper Street, Bonilla-Santiago shares the challenges and obstacles, potential resources, and support of fellow professionals that moved LEAP Academy from a small charter school in 1997 to its top position today. She describes and analyzes the establishment and accomplishments of LEAP Academy in one of America’s poorest and most violent cities, Camden, New Jersey.
Bonilla-Santiago also shares the story of her personal and professional struggles as a Latina from an impoverished and working-class background, surviving and fighting for respect in an academic world that many times did not value racial or ethnic diversity. Those experiences forged a dream of transforming a poor urban community through education.
The Miracle on Cooper Street narrates an inspiring account that shows how one determined individual can make a profound difference in the lives of at-risk children and their communities. It presents a working model for charter schools, while at the same time admitting that LEAP is a work in progress. Most of all, it describes an inspiring institution that has seen many young people break the cycle of poverty, graduate from high school, succeed in college, and go on to live productive lives.