Brooklyn New School Infant Toddler Center Community Conversation
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (PDT)
The Brooklyn New School, in collaboration with Brooklyn College, the HallonEtt preschools in Sweden, and a local group of educators, has been developing a proposal for an infant/toddler center that will serve families living in Red Hook. The strong communities and success at BNS and its sister school BCS, combined with extensive research of infant-toddler centers in both Reggio Emilia, Italy, and Sweden, show that progressive child-centered education is a powerful force for the common good, and that it effects transformative social change. On July 22, the BNS Infant Toddler Planning Center team is having a community meeting to solicit feedback and involvement from Red Hook parents, grandparents and professionals from various fields across our community, as we continue to develop the center. The team is in the proposal-writing/fundraising phase, and the team is excited to involve the community in an evolving conversation about this project.
Goals of the BNS Infant Toddler Center:
• To extend what BNS has already created in its progressive child-centered elementary school, by continuing to serve a population that is socio-economically diverse. We are purposeful about bringing otherwise segregated communities together by having their babies play and learn together. We believe this will create a positive impact on all families whose children participate in our center. While some public early childhood programs reach babies and address poverty, as of yet an economically integrated model doesn’t exist in New York City.
• To provide a beautiful, dynamic and publicly-accessible Reggio-inspired early childhood center. The center will be alive with a rich and varied arts-based curriculum, including extended projects that derive from the children’s interests, expansive materials explorations, singing and dramatic play, and many levels of community dialogue. While Reggio is a buzzword in the early childhood education world, and is coming to NYC via the Reggio "Wonder of Learning" exhibition in Jan-May of 2015, this well-regarded approach to early education is sadly not often emulated in the public sector. The BNS ITC hopes to change that trend.
• To provide a grassroots early childhood option for Red Hook. We are designing this center from the ground up, with families’ needs and interests in mind. We are listening to local families and partnering other local non-profit organizations already at work serving young children. Through our partnership with The Alex House Project, we will add capacity to vital work being done with and for young mothers and their children.
• To serve children starting from as young an age as 6 weeks. Brain research speaks to the critical importance of rich learning experiences for infants to five year olds; hence we desire to work with children who are as young as possible.
• To provide a beacon of best practice in a city that is actively expanding its public early childhood services (ie: universal Pre-K). Our beautiful and succinct documentation of meaningful learning will serve as a valuable resource in the citywide early childhood conversation, between DOE, NYC legislative officials and universities. We will grow and strengthen our curriculum in a research-based partnership with Brooklyn College.
When & Where
Brooklyn New School Infant Toddler Center Planning Team
The Planning Team for the BNS Infant Toddler Center consists of a group of educators from around NYC. We have been meeting monthly to develop our proposal for the Center, which we hope will begin to serve children in Fall of 2015. The team includes Anna Allanbrook (BNS Principal), Beth Ferholt (Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Art Education at Brooklyn College, CUNY), Rachel Schwartzman (BNS Teacher), Kristin Eno (Find & Seek Co-Director), Takiema Bunche-Smith (BNS Parent and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Brooklyn Kindergarten Society), Molly Gia Foresta (BCS Teacher), Carol Foresta (Founder, Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School and AmPark Neighborhood School), Helen Frazier (BNS Parent and Master Teacher, FirstStep NYC) and Sherry Cleary (Executive Director, NYC Early Childhood Professional Development Institute), and the advisory board includes educators Joan Almon (Alliance for Childhood), Deborah Meier (Principal Emeritus, Central Park East Schools; Founder, Center for Collaborative Education) and Ann Cook (Principal Emeritus, Urban Academy; Founder, New York Performance Standards Consortium).