Back to Table of Contents

Home | Media Kit | Articles | Subscribe | Staff | Survey | Advertisers Directory | Jobs for Educators

Please visit these websites:

The Bronx New School: A Magnet for Learning

By Tom Kertes

The Bronx New Community School is a unique, federally funded Magnet School for students in Grades K-5. It is indeed a special place-and in more ways than one. In fact, with due deference to David Letterman, these are The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Send Your Child to the Bronx Community New School:

1. It was founded by parents in 1989. "Some extremely committed parents were very upset over the absence of a high quality school in their neighborhood (Jerome Avenue, in District 10 in the Bronx)," principal Ester Forrest said. "So they got together and decided to petition the Board of Education for the formation of a school. And here we are."

2. Its open aim is the integration of schools-in both directions. "In this particular case, we're trying to lure white children back into the public school system by having a special curriculum and extremely high quality teachers," Ms. Forrest said.

3. It is rather small, only 230 students with an average class size of 24.

4. Much like the little old schoolhouse of yesteryear, it has multi-age classrooms. "Kindergartners and first graders are together, for instance," Ms. Forrest said. "So are Grades 2 and 3." The reason for that is manifold: "Children tend to learn at different rates and use different styles of learning," said the principal. "The multi-age formation allows more freely for that natural process to take place. It also creates a situation where children learn not only from the teachers but from each other. And it also engenders more individual attention paid to each child."

5. Parents are substantially involved in the running of the school. "This is a true grassroots participatory democracy," Ms. Forrest said. "Parents and staff make resolutions jointly, in consultation with myself.

6. Those joint resolutions that determine the course of the school include even he most important, and most basic, decisions, "such as our budget and its allocation," according to Ms. Forrest.

7. The curriculum of the Bronx Community New School emphasizes collaboration rather than competition. "Children communicating with each other share ideas and solve problems jointly," Ms. Forrest said. "We believe that this creates the right environment for optimum learning."

8. The curriculum is aggressively multi-cultural.

9. Assessment of the children is narrative and anecdotal rather than numerical. "Our curriculum is built on the basic belief that each child has an innate desire to learn," Ms. Forrest said. "And, if that is true, there's no reason to classify them by numerical grades. Those numbers can be very discouraging to some children at an early age."

10. The use of computers and Internet Technology is encouraged early and is taught intensively. 11. The Theater Art program is heavily emphasized and is uniquely high quality. "It is viewed as an extension of the academic program," Ms. Forrest said. "Indeed, we believe that they are integrated; language arts skills grow as students create plays or act out stories they know. And thematic units of study are incorporated into our theater arts classes whenever possible." Okay, so that was eleven reasons. But who's counting?

Applications for the Bronx Community New School must be made in the early fall. Admission is by random lottery.

Back to Top

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519 Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email:
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2000.