Lower School News & Stories
Farrell Evans, the father of a Riverdale second grader, began learning about character education through his son’s experience at the Lower School.
He saw the opportunities that his son had for developing social and academic skills as well as qualities that contribute to a positive outlook for meeting challenges and adversity. He wanted economically-disadvantaged boys of color to have that chance.
Evans, a competitive golfer in his high school and college years and a sports journalist, is the co-founder with Robert M. Rubin of the nonprofit The Bridge Golf Foundation, an after-school program designed to use golf to create a social impact, empowering boys of color and making the sport more accessible and affordable for all people.
Rubin is the principal owner of The Bridge, a private golf club in Bridgehampton. The Foundation owns the The Bridge Golf Learning Center, a for-profit golf facility that recently opened in Harlem on 117th Street and is the home for the after-school program.
The Bridge Golf Foundation gives boys of color a chance to learn STEM skills, work with tutors and mentors, and develop the character strengths that Riverdale promotes. They also learn golf, a sport that requires focus, diligence, and self-confidence, using the high-tech simulators at the Bridge Golf Learning Center.
Last summer, Dwight Vidale '01, a Riverdale graduate and the school’s Director of Community Engagement, and a fellow Riverdale alumnus and teacher, Reggie Mays '02, began working with Evans on designing a character education curriculum for the program. They developed activities that encourage students to develop leadership skills, such as public speaking, debating, and decision-making, and character lessons that ask them to reflect on their social and emotional responses to difficulties and conflicts as well as issues around social justice.
In September, 20 boys from Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem were selected to participate. The boys meet after school Monday through Friday, and come in on Saturday for tutoring with qualified STEM instructors. The Bridge Golf Foundation purchased 20 colorful Node chairs, used by Riverdale and designed by IDEO, an innovative design firm, to make the learning experience as comfortable as possible.
Recently, one of the boys in the program, Donte Jones, 13, took part in a fundraising event for Eagle Academy and shared the stage with Hillary Clinton. Evans noted proudly that Jones handled himself with poise, and even adlibbed when the script did not quite go according to plan.
Riverdale Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph said the school was looking forward to working with the Bridge Golf Foundation, offering expertise around character education and developing relationships with the students there.
“Their work is so positive,” Randolph said. “It is an interesting program that is trying to develop character strengths and academic skills and using golf as a means to do that.”