As an Adelphi undergraduate, he began charting a career path that combines sports, teaching and leadership and now teaches at Urban Dove TEAM Charter School in Brooklyn.
by Cecil Harris
As an Adelphi undergraduate, Leonard Bruno began charting a career path that combines sports, teaching and leadership. He was president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Physical Education Club and a member of the honor societies Kappa Delta Phi and Phi Epsilon Kappa. He also played varsity tennis for four years before becoming the team’s assistant coach.
Since 2012, Bruno has been a coach and mentor at Urban Dove TEAM Charter School, an alternative high school that uses a sports- and fitness-based curriculum to motivate at-risk students. TEAM stands for Teamwork, Effort, Achievement and Mindfulness.
Urban Dove occupies two floors above a Pentecostal church in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section. Students attend single-gender classes—2 to 3 hours of sports and fitness in the morning and academic classes afterward. Founder and executive director Jai Nanda (a former New York City teacher and college professor) believes at-risk students learn more effectively in a single-gender setting. Urban Dove opened in 2012 with 92 students. It now has 230.
“Every morning, we start with a huddle—the coach-mentor and the students,” said Bruno. “Each student talks about how he’s feeling and describes his goal for the day. My job is to give him the help he needs to achieve that goal.”
For Bruno, that means being in the classroom with his male students. If Johnny is struggling in math, then Bruno is at a desk nearby to offer encouragement.
“It’s been amazing to share my experiences with the students to help them reach their potential and give them a brighter future,” said Bruno, who also became the coordinator of youth sports programs at Urban Dove after earning his master’s degree from Adelphi’s Department of Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management. “The students are looking for role models to help them navigate the challenges they face and attain their high school diplomas so they can go to college.”
For being the most outstanding student in Adelphi’s sport management program in 2014, Bruno received the Jack Foley Award.
“Leonard is a strong representative of Adelphi University— an engaged learner who actively seeks out knowledge and skills that are applicable to his career,” said Assistant Professor Meredith Whitley, Ph.D., whose specialization is sport-based youth development.
“I’ve had good preparation from Adelphi, and that helps me work very well with students,” said Bruno, who intends to pursue a Ph.D. and become an athletic director. “The students here are predominantly African-American and Hispanic, and I’m from Howard Beach [a predominantly white neighborhood in Queens, New York]. But I have a humorous and charismatic teaching style. Something I’ve always been able to do is relate well to people.”
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