Financial District Welcomes New School
By Sybil Maimin
Within earshot of the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan’s financial district, an exciting education is being offered in a majestic former bank building meticulously renovated to fit the needs of learners. Claremont Preparatory School www.claremontprep.org) serving grades pre-K through 8 with growth plans that include a high school, opened in 2005 with fifty-four children. The school has doubled in size to its current 110 students, and will eventually house a capacity of 1,000 students. It is the newest and largest independent school in the fastest growing residential neighborhood in the city, one that, increasingly, is attracting families. “I see local residents everywhere, women with baby carriages, dogs being walked,” exclaims Dana Haddad, Claremont’s Director of Admissions. “The neighborhood offers a natural diversity that we have been able to draw upon.” The school has also attracted students from other boroughs, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut. School buses transport pupils from Manhattan’s Upper East and West Sides, as well as other neighborhoods.
Claremont is committed to teaching to each individual child. Classes are small and students are encouraged to challenge themselves and learn from others as well as from their teachers.
Claremont Prep has two underlying goals for its students, explains Haddad: “to develop a love for learning and a strong sense of self-esteem.”
Recognizing that students have years of schooling ahead of them, Claremont hopes to “lay a foundation they can take with them anywhere…to raise lifelong learners.” Children study French and Spanish from kindergarten through 4th grade and are introduced to Mandarin Chinese in 5th grade. Other languages will be introduced based on students’ interests. As a new, cutting-edge environment, the entire facility is wireless and technology is thoroughly integrated into the curriculum. Computers and laptops are available to every child. An ambitious after-school program allows students to discover new talents and interests and have fun. Offerings range from karate, cooking, and guitar to recreational sports, chess, and woodworking, as well as many more. Sessions devoted to homework help are also available. A unique feature of Claremont is to its dedication and practice of good nutrition and healthy habits. The café (or cafeteria) features the GO, SLOW, WHOA program that helps children identify and choose foods based on health benefits. GO foods, e.g. vegetables, are identified with a green traffic light and can be eaten in quantity. SLOW foods, e.g., risotto, sporting a yellow traffic light, should be eaten in moderation. WHOA foods, e.g., pizza, seen with a red traffic light, should be eaten only occasionally. Other café experiences include the “No Thank You” Bite Program in which students are asked to try a bite of an unfamiliar food, and a Portion Control initiative. A parent or other adult is invited to have lunch with their child in the café once a month, and a nutritious breakfast is available to the entire Claremont community (students, faculty, parents) each morning.
Claremont boasts a full-size gymnasium, 25 meter pool, well-stocked library, art studios, laboratories, ample outdoor play space, and café. The grand auditorium and performing arts center, formerly the bank lobby, won an award from the city’s Landmark Commission for its meticulous restoration, with particular attention to glorious murals and columns. The neighborhood, site of many school trips, is home to numerous museums and historic landmarks. Director of Admissions Haddad, formerly an Associate Director of Admissions at the Horace Mann School, speaks of the unique opportunity to help shape a school. “As educators,” she notes, “we don’t often get a chance to build a school from scratch.” Headmaster Irwin Shlachter comes with top experience also. He was previously, for 25 years, headmaster at the well-regarded Rodeph Sholom School on the Upper West Side.#
Claremont Preparatory School is located at 41 Broad Street. For further information please call 212-232-0266.