Thursday, June 29, 2006

A New School Viewpoint

Excerpted from the June 26 site closure hearing at the South Shore building.

"I'm Brian Street. I'm a teacher at the New School. And I have two children at the school. I also live in the community. I'm also a graduate of South Shore Middle School. I want to talk about the work we have been doing here planning a preK through 8 school and how our vision fits this location and the students who live around it.

First I want to talk about this community. The other day I heard a parent describe Rainier beach as the Plymouth Rock of Seattle. A couple of years ago, the New York times described the south end of Seattle being uniquely suited to make diversity work. Out school population reflects the diversity of this neighborhood.

27 percent of our student are English language learners. I understand that both last year and this year, 100 percent of our incoming preK students came from within one mile of our school. This neighborhood is our base.

Now I would like to talk about our vision. We are focused on reducing the achievement gap. And we have been building our vision around the three Rs, relationships, rigor, and relevant academics. Relationships is about making family connections. And we have been making home visits to every child. Rigor is about having a razor focus on academics. And relevant academics is creating a curriculum that connects with the cultures of interest of our population.

Part of our curriculum is integrated around community service projects. This is no different from other schools. But part of the plan for the New School, it would be a preK-8 grade school serving the south end. The plan is for the upper middle school grades of our program to have a larger population than the elementary grades, so we would be bringing in students from the other schools in the area. Because our focus and vision is so similar in the area, we will be a perfect feeding school.

We made a conscious decision to place grades six through eight front and center on Rainier and Henderson. The upper grades will be directly connected to the community. We talked about older students walking and riding the bus to community apprenticeships. This location on the corner of Rainier and Henderson is uniquely suited to our vision, because it is so urban. My point is, this neighborhood is who we are, and keeping us here serves the whole south end."

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