brooklyn arbor, ps 414 in Williamsburg

I had a great interview yesterday with Eva Irizarry, the new Principal of Brooklyn Arbor, a public school program. The school, which will be also be known as PS 414, will be opening a kindergarten, first and second grade in the PS 19 building in the fall of 2012. PS 19's upper grades will be phasing out in the next couple years and new children entering the building will be attending Brooklyn Arbor. Zoned families can all be served at the school, but the zone also contains PS 319 and some zoned families choose to begin there at K. PS 19 was in its first year of a Magnet Grant. It looks as though the Grant, whose theme is "Global and Ethical Studies" may be split between PS 19 and Brooklyn Arbor. That is being confirmed shortly. The application period for in zone families will be extended to 3/16 for kindergarten, but there are many, many seats available for families from outside of zone and when approved shortly, magnet applications will be available for those families. Those applications can be made throughout the spring. They are having their first meet and greet at the Williamsburg Library 240 Division Ave. at Marcy Ave. on Friday 3/9 at 4:30. To confirm: or 718-935-3597 They will be scheduling more info sessions and are looking for interested parents and venues to spread the word.

Ms. Irizarry is a Brooklyn parent, formerly on staff at Art in America Magazine, local teacher for over 10 years and has extensive experience in operational roles in local schools. She has been offered other opportunities to lead schools but was waiting until she found an chance to develop a team and create a new program. She has already begun to gather her group of experienced local educators. She will be taking a percentage of the PS 19 teachers, but like her other hires, they will be thoroughly vetted for their love of children and teaching, and expertise in interdisciplinary and project based approach to learning.

Ms. Irizarry is a talented grant writer and excited about bringing a wide variety of programs to the building, as well as utilizing their portion of the Magnet Grant to support the classroom. She wants to develop a Kindergarten Exploratory Classroom that all the K classes will visit for 20-30 minutes a day for sand, water, block and theatrical play. She is passionate when speaking about the need for children to have "hands on" time and creative exploration. Physical activity and love of nature will be integral to the program. The school has a large yard with a brand new playground. She hopes to partner with the Y and incorporate wilderness trips and over-nights and NYC Million Trees Project to beautify the block and bring environmental awareness to the students. The school will also be furnished with environmentally safe and CARB compliant furniture. She hopes to have a technology teacher right away and develop residencies with arts programs to integrate the arts and technology seamlessly into the standard curriculum.

The school is located on South 3rd St. between Rodney and Keap St. close to the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge and equidistant to the G, J, M, and a little further to the L. This new program looks like a terrific opportunity for the zoned families on the south side as well as families all over the adjoining neighborhoods to build the kind of diverse and progressive school community that we love so much in Brooklyn.