By: Xue Lin Wang

Sophia Domeville wears many hats. She is a Community School Director, the School Operations Manager, and a Haitian American Abstract Expressionist. Domeville’s career at Belmont Runyon Community School has allowed her to channel her interests to create a platform to support student success through the Arts into one avenue.

For the past three years, Domeville has served as a Community School Director, spending one year at Spencer Miller Community School and now is entering her 2rd year at Belmont Runyon Community School. As a Community School Director and an Artist, Domeville takes an artistic approach with her coordination. Mix her rich background in art with the students she serves, and the final product is an amalgamation of creativity.

Domeville’s passion for art shines brightly through her work as a Community School Director. At Belmont Runyon Community School, one of her projects, “We Found Our Way: Newark Portraits from The Great Migration” is a partnership Domeville coordinated with the Newark Public Library where she developed an interactive gallery inside the school to promote learning and family outreach throughout Newark with portraits of the local community during the Great Migration.

Students, families, and staff were able to learn about their own roots as well as the stories of Newark’s African American citizens who migrated to the city. This gallery is significant as roughly 52% of Newark’s population is Black or African American. Through the collection of narratives and a historical tour of Newark, students as well as families were able piece together how the Great Migration impacted the city of Newark and proudly be able to celebrate their ancestry.

Integrating the arts into learning does not stop at the students, parents are also engaged. In collaboration with the school’s Parent, Teacher, Student Association (PTSA), Domeville has worked to coordinate sewing classes, Monthly Book Clubs curated by parents that provided free books, library cards, and additional writing workshops through their Newark Public Library partnership, among many other classes to help parents rediscover their talents.

Through a grant written by Domeville and community partners, Dramatic Impact Organization was able to provide a free Family Literacy event giving K-2 families the opportunity to be actively involved in their children's academic and social growth, while helping build positive family relationships. The session engaged over 80 families in storytelling and puppetry activities that strengthened language arts literacy skills and supported the development of communication and interpersonal skills.

With all these artistic activities ,Domeville said her work is still community-driven. The school provides the platform for these activities, but the energy comes from the students, parents, and teachers.

For example, when there was a need for job training and support classes, Domeville partnered with the South Ward Child Alliance to meet the need. The classes were eight weeks long and offered incentives such as free childcare or one month of free rent to encourage families to attend. Once families completed the class, a graduation ceremony was held to celebrate their achievements.

Sophia Domeville’s resume is flowing with accomplishments as she purses her Masters in Educational Leadership at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development with a focus on Advocacy and Education Policy.

Domeville’s favorite part about working at Belmont Runyon Community School, besides combining her passion of community activism and art education, is the students and working with the Southward community. Although Domeville has been a Community School Director for three and a half years now, she still manages ways to find to discover something new in the South Ward area.

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