Keisha Cleveland Baptiste ‘91 to Address the Class of 2021
The Marvelwood School is proud to announce that Keisha Cleveland Baptiste ‘91, will address the Class of 2021 at our 63rd Annual Commencement on Saturday, May 22nd, 2021.
Born and raised in Harlem, Keisha has dedicated her life’s work to ensuring that all students, regardless of demographics, have access to high-quality education. After beginning her career as a history teacher at Marvelwood, Keisha went on to teach at the Children’s Storefront School in East Harlem. She served for many years as Dean at Link Community School in Newark, NJ, and the Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. She is currently working as an Academic Support Specialist for the City University of New York and completing a Master’s degree in Disability Services and Higher Education at Manhattanville College. Keisha resides in New York City with her husband Shirn and their two children, Anaya and Sean.
As a student at Marvelwood, Keisha co-founded CASA–the Cultural and Social Awareness club– in 1988 with veteran faculty member Laurie Doss in response to the untimely death of Desmond Letsie Mphenyke ‘91. Desmond had come to Marvelwood from South Africa to escape the injustices of apartheid and to seek better educational opportunities. In the spring of his junior year, he died in his dorm room of congenital heart failure. The Marvelwood community came together to mourn and pay tribute to the tragically short life of a young man from halfway across the world. In their grief, they realized that there was so much they didn’t know about Desmond and the adversity that he and so many others faced in South Africa. CASA was developed as a forum to learn about, discuss, and promote diversity, acceptance, tolerance, and equity, and continues to be an active and important organization within the Marvelwood community
During her tenure at Marvelwood, Keisha also helped establish a chapter of Amnesty International as part of the School’s community service program. She performed in many theatre productions of the ‘Marvelwood Philalatheis Society’, including ‘On Tidy Endings’, directed by Head of School Blythe Everett ‘P14,‘16, who was in her first year of teaching at the School. An accomplished athlete, Keisha was coached by Laurie Doss on the soccer and softball teams. To improve her skills, she attended the SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School during the summer prior to her senior year. Her efforts paid off as she was named to the WNEPSAA All-Star and All State teams for her stellar goal-tending abilities. Keisha was the recipient of the Female Athlete award and the Wittenberg Cup, the School’s highest award, at her graduation in 1991.
Marvelwood’s 63rd Commencement will take place in-person and out-of-doors on Piper Bell Circle with COVID protocols in place. While the campus remains closed to visitors, each graduate is permitted two guests for the socially-distanced ceremony.
Clockwise from left: The Class of 1991 on top of the School's legendary Blue Bird school bus with Keisha in the center; Keisha playing soccer and fielding in softball; on the set of 'On Tidy Ending' with directors Art Almquist and Blythe Everett P'14, '16; All-Star soccer players Chris Auer '90, Keisha, and Mike Marchetti '90 with their coaches, Sheila Esten, Rex Osae, and Laurie Doss.