Laila Little ’98 gives back to the community

Laila Little, Class of ’98, is giving back to her community…to Link, the City of Newark and beyond. To Link, Ms. Little has brought her passionate concern for children’s health and Double Dutch jump roping to a weekly elective class. Ms. Little started jumping rope at a young age at the Boys and Girls Club in Newark and continued competitively through high school and college. The mentoring and support she received plus the awareness of the socio-economic issues facing the underprivileged inspired her to give back to others. Ultimately she founded Jump Kids Health, an organization with the mission to combat childhood obesity and mental health issues through therapy, nutritional counseling, and competitive Double Dutch training in Newark, Philadelphia, the Bronx, Brooklyn and, soon, West Virginia. Joining Ms. Little in Jump Kids Health are two other Link alumnae – Khaila Cross ’98 and Tiffany Walker ’02.

Laila’s Background

Internationally known in the sport of Double Dutch for over twenty-five years. Ms. Little co-starred on Lifetime’s Docu-series. “Jump” and is also the co-founder of world-renowned Floyd Little’s Double Dutch.  She has touched the lives of over 15,000 youth around the globe including Ghana, Morocco, Guyana, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and nearly every state in the US.  Realizing that her double dutch programs were doing more than winning competitions and realizing the needs of inner-city children, she was inspired to establish Jump Kids Health as a platform to treat children: physically, emotionally, and mentally with a focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and childhood obesity. Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Ms. Little understands the catastrophic impact of poverty, dysfunctional homes, crime, poor education and the lack of therapeutic and psychological help has on the underprivileged.

Jump Kids Health (JHK)

JKH treatment centers use an integrated approach to treating patients by providing routine ACE screenings, behavioral health assessments, and physical examinations, with a goal to allow for early detection, intervention and prevention of risk factors for health issues such as diabetes, thyroid disease, asthma. and or any life-threatening ailments.  JKH has a medical team and world-renowned activity specialist coaches with experience with an innovative approach to treatment, making it fun but result driven. Treatment centers are located throughout the tri-state and surrounding areas— at locations such as Newark, Jersey City, Philadelphia, York, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and, soon, West Virginia.


Learning never ends for Link’s performing arts teaching artist

Sahirah Johnson, Link’s teaching artist in performing arts, traveled to Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England to study recently. The residence was part of her studies to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ.

Wroxton College is 90 minutes from London, but only 15 minutes from Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Mrs. Johnson had the opportunity to visit the famous playwright’s birthplace and  Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London, a replica of the original Globe Theater that Shakespeare and his plays are associated with.

“I was able to take pictures of where he was born and learn new things about Shakespeare that I could bring back and share with my students,” Mrs. Johnson said.

Writing the Visual
At Wroxton, Johnson also studied ekphrastic writing. It is an aspect of writing that delivers a written or verbal description – often dramatic – based on a visual work of art. Johnson said she is able to use ekphrastic writing to strengthen the play-writing unit she does with 7th and 8th grade Link students.

“They end up working through many different senses, visual, auditory and writing,” she said. “The most exciting part of being at the residence was learning something new. As educators we sometimes get stuck teaching the same things the same way. But really we need to be learning, we need to be adjusting and learning new techniques.”

Mrs. Johnson, who is one year away from completing her MFA, said she wants her students to know that it is “never too late to learn something new; never too late to experience something new.” Johnson studied music education at Howard University and earned a theater arts degree from Kean University.

“I’m a life-long learner,” said Johnson, who has been teaching for 16 years, the past 11 here at Link. “When I am not learning something new, I feel stagnant. I feel like my love of learning spills over into the classroom with students.”

Link Students Learning from a Pro
Mrs. Johnson was born and raised in Newark. As a professional actress and singer, she has toured with the National Broadway touring group of the musical Rent and with singers John Legend and Luther Vandross. She is currently directing the school production of The Wiz. Performances of the musical are on March 1 and 2.

She loves sharing her life experiences with her students so they know that it is all possible for them, too. “Where you are from does not define you or where you end up,” Mrs. Johnson said. “Anything is possible.”


The enrollment lottery scheduled for Wed., 2/20 will take place at 5 pm on Thurs., 2/21 due to the weather forecast and the fact that school will close early (12:45 pm ) on Wednesday.


School will close at 12:45 pm tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20th. There will be no after school activities including no after care program. Parents, please be prompt in picking up your child so staff can go home in time to avoid the worst of the weather.

THE WIZ, the musical, coming to Link!

Link students and staff will perform The Wiz, a musical, on Friday, March 1 at 7 pm and on Saturday, March 2 at 3 pm in Link’s gym. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students/children up to age 17.  Seating is limited, so contact the school for information on how to purchase a ticket.