Antoinette Kane, Little Water Preparatory Charter School

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

This interview is a part of TARA's Visionary School Founder Series where we highlight the vision, innovation & strides that school founders have made in education.

Founding Principal: Antoinette Kane

School: Little Water Preparatory Charter School

Location: Poughkeepsie, NY

Antoinette Kane is a mission-driven educational leader with a fundamental belief that all students deserve the opportunity to be affirmed and to thrive. Fueled by her college experience tutoring incarcerated adults and local public-school students, Antoinette returned to Brooklyn to make an impact on youth with experiences similar to her own. Antoinette worked in Brooklyn, NY as an elementary school teacher and leader and designed a middle-school program that focused on identity building through poetry and hip-hop. 

Antoinette is committed to providing the families and children of Poughkeepsie with a high-quality educational option and a space where their voices are amplified, and identities affirmed. Antoinette believes all children deserve a high-quality education that empowers them to take on any shape or form. 

Little Water Preparatory Charter School is a free public charter school that provides affirming and rigorous environment for all K-5 scholars through reflective, data-driven teaching and a responsive curriculum that allows scholars to recognize their power and have agency over their futures. Little Water Prep will welcome students for the first time in the fall of 2022. Now enrolling grades K-1 - Learn More!

What is your unique approach to K-12 education? What makes your school different in terms of method?

“At Little Water Prep we believe like water; our students are essential and can take on any shape or form. We seek to serve as the educational "container" in which each and every one of our scholars is equipped with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to evolve into their power and have agency over their futures. We offer a unique humanities curriculum, designed from scratch and responsive to our students' identities, communities, and histories. Our school culture and environment are based on our core mindset - Be Water, which stands for Well-grounded, Adaptable, Transparent, Empathetic, and Revolutionary. These mindsets lay the foundation for our belief that schools do not need to manage or control students' bodies - but instead should allow for authentic relationship building, identity development and affirmation, and restorative practices that strengthen us as a collective. We also recruit and develop passionate and culturally competent educators who adopt a "by any means" mentality when serving our students and families. We believe our education system has become overly complicated and therefore, our school approach seeks to highlight how simple good education really is. With radical love, intention, and a deep belief in all of our children, an affirming and meaningful educational environment can be born where our students can thrive.”

Watch Antoinette's interview episode!

What lesson(s) have you learned from the founding process? Looking back, is there anything you would've done differently?

“I always say, I am not building a school - the school is building me. The greatest lesson I have learned throughout the founding process is that your vision must be greater than your fear. It is being able to step back and listen, identify what you do not know, and seek the support of those who do. There is so much you have to learn and become an expert in overnight, it can become overwhelming and sometimes even defeating. Stay grounded and faithful to your why, stay committed to the vision.”

Why would a teacher want to work at your charter school vs others? What types of support will you provide teachers to cultivate a position culture?

“Our school model was created with our teachers in mind as it was designed by a teacher herself! The key is creating an affirming and safe environment for not just our students but for our teachers and staff too. This looks like an intentional time and space for community building, personal reflection, and self-care. It looks like a leadership staff that holds themselves accountable and acts with intention. A huge part of our professional development involves personal reflection, identity exploration, and critical thought through literacy. 

Interested in joining this talented team of educators? Submit your resume to to apply!

We meet as a staff on a monthly basis for a collective book club. Each month we read a common book, text, or article (not directly relevant to education) and come together to critically discuss it with one another and reflect on its connection to our work. We also believe professional development should look like our teachers and staff in the community and outside of the school building. We attract teachers who are eager to dig deep into their "why" and who are ready to make a profound impact in each of their students' lives.”

What is your school's biggest need today?

“We are just months away from opening our school, so our needs vary and typically change week to week! We are currently focused on getting our facility scholar and teacher ready for August. We are also focused on student enrollment and have a few spots left for kindergarten and first grade!”

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