New School Update: BUGS in District 15

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BUGS partners with many community organizations to enrich students' learning experience. Here students make compost and garden at the Old Stone House, a Dutch colonial-style farmhouse.

Joyce Szuflita, of NYC School Help is our School Expert and always has the scoop on what’s going on with schools. She  breaks any school news on her blog here so make sure you check it out and sign up for her newsletter that gives you the full scoop!

She wrote to tell us some more on Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS), a new middle school charter in District 15. We wrote about it back in December HERE.

From Joyce:

Big news for 5th graders! BUGS is opening in District 15 in fall of 2013.

Why are they opening this school?
“BUGS initially grew out of street corner and on-going kitchen table conversations between local parents and educators concerned about the number of middle school options in District 15. Once we began taking seriously the possibility of creating a new school, we assembled our academic team and realized the potential we have to not just add needed middle school seats, but to create a cutting edge, developmentally appropriate educational model for the middle years. The selection of an environmental sustainability focused curriculum allows us to offer educational programming that will not only engage the hearts and minds of students, but is a perfect vehicle for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). We feel strongly that our model will offer this community not just much needed additional middle school seats, but a rich, engaging, rigoruous and meaningful educational experience for our students that can launch them not just to excel in high school, but to seize opportunities for all of their lives.”

Where:
They have just announced their location: 500 19th St. in the Bishop Ford HS building, at the end of Prospect Park W and two blocks from Greenwood Cemetery. Many of you may know that Brooklyn Prospect Charter School had been in that building until they recently moved to the former Immaculate Heart of Mary Building in Windsor Terrace/Kensington. Brooklyn Prospect is a 6-12th grade program and ultimately needed much more space for their program. BUGS is a stand alone middle school so this space is more appropriate for them long term.

Thanks to a State Stimulus Fund grant, BUGS students will use iPads and Vernier technology to conduct science experiments, fieldwork, and classroom activities. Here students test the quality of soil samples collected throughout Prospect Park.

From BUGS:
“We are very excited about our co-location with Bishop Ford. We will occupy our own two floors, and will have full access to all of the school’s facilities, such as its gymnasium, art, music and dance rooms, as well as our own large roof area, which we intend to turn into a rooftop container garden.”

Who can go:
They will be accepting approximately 110 – 130 6th graders in their inaugural class, the 2013/14 school year. These students will be accepted by random lottery with priority given to students who live within District 15 (you may register for the lottery if you live outside the district – you never know, you may be lucky!). Applications will be accepted to around April 1, 2013 and the lottery will be held sometime in April. Don’t worry about the fact that you won’t have heard about your district middle school placement. You should be able to choose between your DoE placement and a charter school placement when the time comes.

Students work together to compare the quality of three soil samples collected from various Brooklyn locations. They measure pH and water infiltration to assess soil health and risk of erosion.

What they are doing:
BUGS will focus on civic engagement and the interdisciplinary study of environmental sustainability. Students will master the core academic subjects with New York City as their living classroom – their location is convenient by foot to both Greenwood Cemetary and Propect Park. By creating hands-on solutions to real-world challenges, students will develop the problem-solving, collaborative and critical thinking skills to succeed in high school, college, and the workforce of the 21st century.

Who they are:
BUGS is an autonomous, community-based project that is independent from any Charter School Management Organization.

From BUGS: “We anticipate hiring 4-8 core subject teachers as well as a team of special education, assessment and English language learning Specialists to support them. Our initial recruitment efforts and word of mouth have yielded enormous interest from prospective teachers. In terms of art and music teachers, we will be providing art or music twice a week (with music and art being rotated through the marking periods). We will also have a two hour enrichment program once a week, with outside performing and visual artists, musicians and sports teachers offering rotating programming each marking period.”

“Our Principal comes with five years of experience leading a large middle school in the Bronx, which she brought from being designated as one of the twelve most violent schools in NYC to a nurturing learning community focused on college and career readiness. As its Principal, she facilitated the establishment of a rigorous curriculum, research-based pedagogical approaches, and common assessments in partnership with Teachers College. She was born in Indiana surrounded by an agricultural family dedicated to social justice. A Yale University graduate and former Children’s School teacher, she is passionate about music, biking and travel.”

What your kids want to know:
There will be lockers. Uniforms- to be determined. Captive lunch.

Homework:
From BUGS: “We believe that homework should reinforce daytime learning by connecting it to adolescents’ diverse lives. Through homework, scholars will explore their individual interests using the research and reading comprehension skills they developed in school, as well as using their own community to explore concepts of sustainability. There will be approximately one hour of homework each night, the majority of which will require students to conduct research in their communities, gather information from written resources, and apply and reinforce skills.

Using a graduated cylinder to measure water runoff.

How will they support a diverse group of learners?
“We are excited to welcome a diverse group of learners and ensure that they all experience academic and personal growth, We will spend the summer gathering information about our students to create heterogeneous sections for core subjects. During this time, students will engage in project-based learning aligned to our environmental sustainability theme. The topics will be based on student interests and provide multiple entry points for students to master skills and content and demonstrate their understanding to the entire community. In addition to core subjects, students will spend time in groups of students with similar academic needs receiving targeted instruction including remediation such as reading comprehension and acceleration such as preparation for the specialized high school exam and Regents exams.

“Our goal is to prepare all students to be successful in the high school application process. We define success as having an understanding of the options and finding a school that meets the child’s interests and needs. Beginning in sixth grade we will help students create rigorous academic goals, identify their areas of interest, and build the necessary study skills and self advocacy/management to excel in high school and college. In addition to the BUGS Guidance Counselor, Advisors will use their weekly Advisory sessions to guide students in ensuring progress towards their goals and preparing for the entrance exams, interviews and auditions necessary for high school admission.

Bugs has received a $50,000 grant from the State Stimulus Fund, which has allowed them to purchase 60 ipads and Vernier sensors, which will allow for soil, water and air testing.

“Community building will be fostered both within and outside of the school walls. Place-based projects, sustainability themes, and visits to community partners organizations and venues, help connect students to the larger community, their neighborhoods, and the global community. Within BUGS’ walls, the school culture reinforces the importance of community as one of our key values and contexts: We are inclusive, interdependent, respectful, compassionate and generous in serving others.”

“One of the most concrete community connections will be the creation, maintenance and on-going growth of our roof garden. The garden will be established and nurtured by the students, and we will welcome help from parents and interested community volunteers.”

Contact them:
Add your name to their database of interested families: admissions@BUGSbrooklyn.org
In the subject line: “send admissions updates & add us to the database” (this won’t be a registration but they will alert you when the registration begins), make sure that you add the name of your child and the year when they will be entering the 6th grade in the body of the email

Events:
Feb. 14
Love BUGS Fundraiser
Feb/March
Information Sessions (TBD)
March (TBD) screening of Brooklyn Castle

For all information check out their website.


Details:
The Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS)
212.437.8318
admissions@bugsbrooklyn.org
email them at info@BUGSbrooklyn.org to be added to their database for updates.

Joyce Szuflita

*****
Joyce Szuflita, NYC School Help, is a 28 year Brooklyn resident and the mom of teenage twins who has spent years interviewing educators, touring schools, combing the internet and being generally obsessed with all aspects of public and private schooling in Brooklyn and NYC. She consults privately with families who want to navigate the school search. She can be seen in the NY Times, Time Out NY Kids, NY Family – Brooklyn, achildgrowsinbrooklyn.com andnycprivateschoolsblog.com

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