One day it just clicked for Charlie Cooper ’23: He should use his art for good. “Having photography as my passion and a love for community service, I thought it would be a great idea to start a club where I could connect with younger kids and give them this opportunity,” the sophomore explained.
The club would focus on photography skills and mentorship with My Brother's Keeper (MBK), an initiative launched by then-President Barack Obama in 2014 to address ongoing opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. Cooper was inspired by a conversation he had with Anthony Gaines, his former AAU basketball coach and the current program director of MBK in Greenburgh.
After a year of planning, the Masters Exposure Club became a reality in February 2020. Masters students in the club join him in teaching photography to fifth and sixth graders in the MBK program. Due to the pandemic, the sessions have been virtual and the youngsters have been using their smartphones for assignments, like the photo above.
“We meet every other Friday and we hope to start it in person maybe next school year,” Cooper said. “I find it to be amazing to put a camera in a kid’s hand who would not get the chance otherwise.”
Cheering him on from the start has been visual arts teacher and advisor Rachel Langosch. “Charlie is a natural teacher! He planned activities that were age-appropriate, engaging and informative,” she explained. “After the second class, one of the students asked Charlie if they could have photography class every day. It was a really sweet moment.”
And that sort of reward makes all the difference to Cooper: “Even if only one kid remembers anything from this, it means I made an impact.”
As a result of Cooper’s determination and drive, My Brother’s Keeper is this month’s featured MISH organization with Gaines set to be their guest speaker at the morning meeting on April 21.