Class photo at North Star Academy in 1998
Newark, News

Excerpt: Former Teacher Recalls Very First Day of North Star Academy

  • July 23, 2019

“I felt my heart being pulled in. As I watched and listened and fought back tears, all I could think was, If this is the first day of school, what is tomorrow going to be like? And the day after that? And the day after that? Where will these children be in five years? In 10? In 15? In 20? And where will Norman and Jamey be?”

In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Hit the Drum, Sarah Tantillo, author and former teacher at Uncommon Schools North Star Academy describes the very first day that North Star Academy opened in 1997. It wasn’t much at first. Co-founder Norman Atkins and James Verrilli led a group of 72 fifth and sixth-graders in a discussion about their Core Values and held their very first Community Circle.

Read the full excerpt of Sarah Tantillo’s new book at