new school option proposed for district 13

I heard a rumor and it has been confirmed by Allison Gaines Pell, Principal at the wonderful Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters Middle School in Ft. Greene that they have applied to the DOE for a grade extension to become a K to 8 program. It is just an intital application. The DOE has to analyze space and feasibility, but they are hopeful to create a new and vibrant educational institution for the whole community. If approved to move forward, the expansion would begin in the fall of 2011, and there will be a lot of ways for the community and families to be involved in the process. There is no "official" information yet, and there probably won't be until early summer, but questions can be sent to Principal Alison Gaines Pell at  I am in contact with her and I will also post updates here. 

Here is a statement from the school, “At Arts & Letters, we believe that the purpose of public education is to raise young people -- in collaboration with parents-- who are strong, flexible, and deep thinkers, as well as thoughtful, caring, responsible, and productive members of a vibrant, democratic society. We are committed to the notion that that through a public education, we can and will develop creative, confident, courageous people who will, through their rich and challenging questioning of the world, find and carry out our world's next great discoveries and traditions. In school, we can find our selves, our passions, and our talents. In school, we can learn how to listen, to challenge, to defend, to succeed and fail. In school, we can learn that answering hard questions and meeting big challenges is interesting and engaging, and that nothing is greater than mastery of something that you never thought possible.

To do this right, we need more time with every child and family. Over these past four years, we have watched our young people-- your children -- grow through young adolescence, working with them during a powerful, but brief, window of time. As you know, young people come to us in 6th grade from all different schools, from which they bring a variety of habits and attitudes towards learning. We have just a three-year window with them, and it takes almost all three years to develop the habits of mind and heart that we know they must have to fulfill our mission. It also takes almost all three years to develop relationships with young people and their families that enable deep support and understanding of each unique child. We believe that we need to begin working with families and children much earlier. Through a seamless nine-year sequence, beginning in Kindergarten and ending in grade eight, and the multiple opportunities for interage learning and routines that this affords, we feel sure that we can teach and nurture the thinking, listening and problem-solving skills necessary for a successful upper level educational experience including high school and college, as well as a vibrant democracy. We feel sure that this will allow us time to develop the kinds of people who learn their whole lives long, who truly embody courage, confidence, clarity, creativity and compassion, and who will grace the covers of newspapers and magazines (if digitally!) as "ones to watch."

In our early childhood program, our classrooms will be places of exploration and experiential learning. We will maintain our focus on higher order thinking skills: reasoning, problem-solving, interpretation, precision, and research, and our students will look deeply at big questions about our world and our communities each year. We will utilize the best of the resources our local community has to offer, including arts and cultural institutions, but also Fort Greene park, a natural place for exploration and scientific inquiry. And of course, we will continue to recruit and develop the best teachers in New York City, as we know that this is the most important factor that has contributed to our success thus far.”