June, 2019: Relaunch of Community Newspaper "The South End Scene." See The Wizard's Wardrobe student writing featured in this amazing first edition, along with other community writers. 


The NAACP, along with the Howe Branch of Albany Public Library, Center for Law and Justice, Youth FX, and other partners are relaunching the community newspaper known as The South End Scene, called The New Scene. This new publication meant to honor and pay homage to the spirit of The Scene will be reimagined as primarily an online publication with not just articles, but featuring different mixed media. A print version, for those with limited access to technology or internet, will be available. The Scene will be created by people in the community and published for people in the community, spanning the South End to Arbor Hill and around Albany to aggregate community knowledge, events, resources, and talents into a readily accessible publication. 


We encourage everyone to use the "power of your words," visit the publication online, and sign up to contribute.   https://www.thenewscene.org/


 News10 Story 11/26/18 - "Super Mom Monday: Reading is Magic at The Wizard's Wardrobe 

In this Super Mom report, News10’s Mary Wilson visits a special tutoring program in Albany that extends learning beyond the classroom in a magical setting that feels nothing like school.

Enter through the wardrobe, a secret portal to a world where reading is magic.  A special space filled with wands, wizard hats, and castle walls that was once dilapidated and covered in mold. Through donations and grants, the mess was transformed into the Wizard’s Wardrobe, a free one-on-one tutoring program for Albany’s South End students.

“Some of them even live in homeless shelters and so there’s nothing real constant in their lives.”

Program Director Debra Fagans says that all changes when students enter through the wardrobe.

“The idea is that it doesn’t look like the children are walking into a tutoring program and have the stigma of going to a tutoring program,” she said.

The mystical theme makes learning fun. Students earn tokens to trade in for goodies, but the real focus is literacy – helping children become confident readers by grade 3.

“Because when they go on to grades 4 and 5 and further they have to absorb a lot of content and that means comprehension.”

Executive Director Agnes Zellin says it’s the one-on-one component that makes all the difference.

“A student comes in and knows there’s somebody waiting for them, just for them,” she said.

3rd grader Ariana is diving into her lessons with tutor Carmen French. The pair meet twice a week and have formed a close bond.

“She’s fun and she’s really paying attention to what I do and looking out for what I do and mistakes I do,” said Ariana.

Studies show that one-on-one instruction works: improving reading comprehension 4 times the normal rate, giving students greater school attendance, and helping them perform higher on standardized tests. And being a tutor is rewarding.

“She’s always giving 150 percent, she’s always prepared to learn, so being with her is like having a little girl that I never had,” said French.

All around the room, spellbound students are reading and writing…and they’re happy to be here. Proving there might be something supernatural about the Wizard’s Wardrobe after all.

“Reading is magic, it is, you can go places you never thought you could go and may never will,” said Zellin.


Wizard’s Wardrobe is always looking for private and corporate donations. They also need more tutors so they can accept more students into the program. You don’t need teaching experience. They will gladly train you and help you make a difference in a child’s life. Follow this link to learn how: https://www.wizardswardrobeweb.org/

WW Blog