Strong Place is a family and our connection does not end when a child graduates. Alumni often bring their children to Strong Place for their formative education. We are proud of the many successes of our alumni and always love to hear from them as they become conscientious, caring, productive and responsible citizens.
After nearly 50 years, our graduates have become professionals, parents, entrepreneurs and even activists. Some have even attended Ivy League schools. There is no better testament to the success of Strong Place than to look at our graduates. We invite all of our graduates to share their experiences.
Here are some of our Alumni Stories in their own words:
"I went to Strong Place Day Care Center in the late 1970s. Mrs. Pennisi was one of my teachers at the time. Since then, I graduated from St. Savior HS, went to college for just under 2 years, became a massage therapist, then a NY real estate broker for 15 years. In 2009, I opened my own business, La Casita Yarn Shop Cafe. Strong Place Day Care Center will always have a special place in my heart because it’s where I met my best friend and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since."
- Jennifer Nancy Lopez
"I attended Strong Place Day Care Center from 1996-1998. I found myself returning to Strong Place in 2014 as a teachers aid while I was studying to become an occupational therapy assistant. I was an aid for about a year when I received my license to practice occupational therapy. I am currently starting my third year working in a rehab center as a certified occupational therapy assistant."
- Malyssa Lopez
"Strong Place Day Care has so many many memories for me. Strong Place provided a foundation for me when I was 2-1/2 until I was five. I had the most amazing teacher, Ms. Pennisi. From her guidance and nurturing, I believe, my desire to be an educator began. I want all my students to feel as loved as I did while attending Strong Place. Ten years ago when it was time to put my own children in school it was to my relief and gratitude that I learned that Strong Place still existed. Not only did it exist, but it also was now being directed by the same wonderful woman that was my teacher. Through, Ms. Pennisi's guidance she has maintained that safe haven for my own children to love and create in school. Strong Place is not just a day care center but a home away from home."
- Jessica Frasciello
I attended Strong Place Daycare as well as 3 of my other siblings. Strong Place was an environment that carried a great impact on my life and I am forever grateful for it. My eldest brother attended Strong Place and he has now graduated Fordham University in his major in biology and will be attending dental school in the fall of 2019. I will be graduating high school in the summer of 2019. Overall, in our lives we have never forgotten the amazing teachers and experiences Strong Place Daycare had given us.
- Maya Darwish
I went to Strong Place for pre-k and now I am in 7th grade. Strong Place was not only a school for me, it was a home. It was my safe place. All the teachers there made me feel comfortable, and they helped create the foundation of education for me and I will forever be thankful for the amazing opportunities I had as a kid, as well as attending Strong Place. And I thank you all.
- Judy Darwish
My earliest formative memories took shape in Strong Place’s majestic yard, where I not only learned how to extend my imagination, but it is where I also learned the importance of empathy, collaboration, and care. Through play, I was encouraged to try my best to understand where another person was coming from and to lovingly hold space for their experience of the world. I now recognize that all the rounds of Housekeeping, monkey bars, and block building laid the groundwork for my profession as a curator. Due to my early exploratory days at Strong Place, I gained the confidence necessary to take risks, to exude conviction behind my ideas, and to always do so with the understanding of one’s power. It was in that urban oasis where I was trusted and trusted myself to make decisions, where I failed and tried again, and where I was first held accountable by a community to do my best to be a good person. In my professional and personal lives, the values I learned at Strong Place anchor me and my commitment to civic service.
- Ali Rosa-Salas
I, along with many family members, attended Strong Place Daycare in the mid-90’s, and since then it has always remained an important part of my life. Some of my earliest and fondest memories were made in this neighborhood institution. The relationships and friendships I formed throughout my time there created an everlasting impact. Strong Place was more than just a daycare, it was a second home. From the thought provoking lesson plans, creative class projects and adventurous class trips, Strong Place helped shape me into the person I am today. Upon graduating Hunter College with a Bachelor's degree, I returned to Strong Place as an Assistant Teacher for two years. I look forward to the day when I can send my own children there.
- Samantha Loria
Some of my greatest memories are from Strong Place. Some friendships developed there still exist today. I attended in the mid 1990s along with my younger sister. Several years later, my younger brother and sister attended there as well. I went to Strong Place from the age of three and half until I was around eight, when the after school program was still there. Strong Place was a second home and all the staff were and still are family and would treat you as such. Some years after attending, I graduated from New Dorp High School on Staten Island in June of 2010. My high school program focused on Forensic Science and Criminology. I went on to attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where I majored in Criminology and my minor focused on sociology. I had my first child right in the middle, but I still graduated on time with a Bachelor of Arts in 2014. All throughout college, I worked for a non-profit organization teaching computer classes to women who were either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. I also volunteered my time in the youth group part of SMART. We learned about resume’ writing, we participated in nutrition/cooking classes, and we also did outreach to promote healthy lifestyle habits. A year after graduating college I moved on to teach at St. Paul’s School of Nursing. I taught sociology to students studying to obtain their associate’s degree within the medical field. Soon after that, I had my second child and decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration of advanced counter-terrorism. I currently attend Southern New Hampshire University online with a G.P.A. of 4.0 and I recently graduated from the Police Academy and I am proudly a part of the NYPD. Raising two small boys, attending grad school, and having a law enforcement career hasn’t been easy but has been well worth the challenges. It all started at Strong Place, where we were taught that we could be anything and do anything we wanted to as long as we put our minds to it. This statement stands true, thank you to all the wonderful teachers and staff for dedicating so much of their lives to us and investing in our success. Ms. Pennisi, thank you for always correcting my grammar when I used we was instead of we were. Thank you for always supporting me and believing in me and helping me to believe in myself. Every child should have the outstanding education and support that I was lucky to experience in may formative years at Strong Place.
- Chelsea Clare
"I attended Strong Place Day Care Center as a child. I have very fond memories of my time there. Mrs. Pennisi was one of my many wonderful teachers. I graduated from SUNY Downstate with a bachelors in science and worked as a pediatric nurse at NY Methodist Hospital in Park Slope. I now live on Long Island with my husband and two children. I am still best friends with Jennifer Lopez who I first met at Strong Place Daycare."
- Antoinette D’Angelo
"As a proud alumna of Strong Place Day Care, I am so very grateful my children will be able to experience all of the joys Strong Place has to offer. Education and a family-like setting has always been a top priority and that has not changed. Strong Place Day Care has been a true asset for neighborhood families as this gem has been passed down from generation to generation. And now 30 years later my children will be alumni, too."
- Victoria Rivera
"Dear Strong Place, Thank you for making me who I am today. I can truthfully say that part of me is because of what you’ve given me. I went to strong place from the age of 2 to 5 which was in 2004-2007. You inspired me to acquire the knowledge that I have today. I always felt so welcomed and loved by each and everyone so much that I know every single person's name, even people that weren’t my own teachers. Knowing words such as bamboozled and learning sign language at the age of 5 years old was amazing. Signing is something that I still know today. Recess consisted of playing outside with a bunch of things to do from bikes to the slides. When it got hot and they would put the sprinklers on, me and my friends would sit on towels having little conversations--just how unaware we were of how little we were in this world but important. My mom still has all the things that I would make for arts and crafts sessions such as my turkey hand for Thanksgiving or a Christmas wreath. To this day I have never been to any other school that has made food better than you guys. The food was always nutritious and always good in fact to this day I still ask for it 11 years later! Naming all these things about the school really isn’t what’s important. What’s important is the impact it had on me. My mom raised me pretty well and Strong Place also added to those teachings. I was taught to be kind and learned how to share, and most of all to make the best out of any situation. I’m 16 years old as of today I am in my sophomore year of high school and enrolled in the law and politics program with aspirations to be a lawyer. I am also an honors student. So I don’t know if I’ve had an impact on you, but 11 years later you have certainly had an impact on me."
- Kayla Ruiz
Strong Place was my first educational institution, and instilled with me a long lasting love for knowledge and curiosity about the world around me. Supportive teachers and staff members were the foundation of my experience at Strong Place. I remember the community being truly a microcosm of Brooklyn's unending diversity. Generosity and inclusiveness were key life values I learned there. I fondly recall lively classroom activities, memorable trips and lessons that combined fun and exploration with necessary skill building. The bonds I developed with my classmates at Strong Place have stood the test of time; several of my classmates I have remained in touch with for over two decades, which speaks to the strength of the community that Strong Place fosters. Due to my continuing involvement and the schools generosity, I’ve collaborated with Strong Place a number of times, including a short documentary I made with some of the pre K students about identity. The sense of community fostered at the school also served as a foundation for my anti- bullying advocacy, which I have worked with GLSEN to do. Since my days at strong place, my studies have led me across NYC and the US. I went on to earn a BA in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa. I'm currently completing a PhD in anthropology, and I do believe that had it not been for the love of learning cultivated in me at Strong Place, I'd likely have a different life path.
- Marcel Rosa-Salas
A newly constructed 23-unit condominium is what you will see today if you pass by Strong Place and Degraw street. But what I remember every single time I pass by it, is only great memories of my times at Strong Place daycare. It may have been more than 25 years ago but that place holds such great memories of my first time in school. I must of been about 3 years old. I still have a clear picture of what my classroom looked like. I remember going to the outside play area and looking past the fence to right across the street where my grandfather lived. It must of been my first few days at school because I can remember seeing my mom across the street and crying because I insisted I go with her. All of the staff worked hard to make our time at Strong place fun, exciting and educational. I can still remember the names of my friends there, some which I still keep in touch with today. I can remember so clearly what a great time I had at Strong Place Daycare. This year I enrolled my 4 year old son in Strong Place for Hope. I thought the name was just a coincidence but when I saw Mrs. Pennisi I had a very strong feeling I had met her sometime in my life but I wasn't quite sure where I knew her from. Every day I dropped my son off I kept telling myself I knew her and one day I decided to ask. Not to my surprise, Mrs. Pennisi was one of my daycare teachers 25 years ago and I know she was a nurturing woman. I am so happy I decided to send my son to a woman who created such beautiful memories for me. Today I work at NYU-Langone Brooklyn as a mother-baby Nurse. Thank You Mrs. Pennisi and all of the staff for creating a warm and nurturing environment for our kids.
- Amina Hossain