Link Community Charter School and Link Education Partners are saddened by the passing of the founder of Link, Sister Vivien Jennings, O.P. on Saturday, May 5th. Sister Vivien was a remarkable woman with an amazing passion for education and social justice. Among her many accomplishments in life, she conceived of Link – an educational institution that would make a difference in the lives of Newark youth – as an act of social justice following the Newark Riots of 1967. She wanted to help the city heal, and campaigned to provide a safe haven for young teens, to help them grow academically and personally in a city that was rife with gangs and drugs. In 1969, she received support from her congregation, the Sisters of St. Dominic Caldwell, NJ, and established Link Educational Center, also known as Project Link, which has evolved over the years to Link Community School, and now Link Community Charter School. While she never served as either a teacher or an administrator at Link, she remained very connected throughout the school’s 48 years and was proud of the school’s accomplishments. Her heartfelt reflections on Link and its establishment are captured in our first film about the school, A Matter of Justice, which can be found on the school’s website, www.linkschool.org/about-us/history/.
In 2014, Link transitioned from an independent school under the umbrella of the Sisters of St. Dominic to a public charter school, to deepen the educational program by serving younger students and to close the ever widening achievement gap. While Sister Vivien and the other Dominican Sisters in Caldwell no longer have direct involvement with the school, they have continued a warm and supportive partnership in education.
Of Sister Vivien, Link’s Head of School Maria Pilar Paradiso commented,” The torch was lit in 1969 and it still burns brightly because of the vision and work of Sister Vivien and the other Dominican Sisters. The school has served over 2500 youth very successfully and launched them into competitive high schools in New Jersey and the northeastern U.S. It is up to us to keep the flame burning strong to ensure social justice through educational equity, to benefit future Linkers, and to honor the legacy of Sister Vivien and the Caldwell Dominicans.”
To learn more about Sister Vivien Jennings, read her complete obituary from the Star Ledger:
Six Link students represented the school in an honor guard at Sister Vivien’s funeral on Wednesday, May 9th, along with students from St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City, Mount Saint Dominic Academy in Caldwell, and Caldwell University in Caldwell—all schools that Sister Vivien greatly impacted. This was a true honor for our students and our school.