Bronx New School: A Magnet for Learning
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:
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."
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.
It is rather small, only 230 students with an average class size
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.
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.
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.
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."
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?
for the Bronx Community New School must be made in the early fall.
Admission is by random lottery.
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