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International School of Brooklyn


									                                                  International School of Brooklyn
                                                                                                                                        July 2010
                                                                                              NEWSLETTER                                Volume 2, Issue 3
An End to Playgroups, And a New Beginning Page 1                                               Editor: Rebecca Skinner
“City Lights of Brooklyn” - A Great Success Page 2                                             Contributors: Lisa Armstrong, Catherine Colton, Rebecca
5 Questions for Lucía Fernández Sánchez Page 3                                                 Skinner, Muriel Stallworth, Lara Tabac, Chris Taylor
At Play: The Cuddly and Worldly Brownstone Buddies Page 4                                      Photography: Various contributors
10 Easy Ways to Support ISB’s Move Page 4                                                      Newsletter Layout & Design: Jen Henriquez

An End to Playgroups, And a New Beginning
by Chris Taylor

      This coming year is a major shift for ISB in more ways than one. Not only will
the school be moving to a beautiful new space in Carroll Gardens, but the long-
running French and Spanish immersion playgroups that ISB began in 2004 came
to an end in June.
      In neighborhoods all over South Brooklyn, more than 500 kids have partici-
pated over the years – including many current students. The playgroups were
the brainchild of ISB co-founder Rebecca Skinner and Board President Teresa
Santamaria. But while it’s a bittersweet moment, the shift will allow ISB to direct its
resources toward the core mission of developing the school day program.
      With so many children learning their first ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Buenos días’ in play-
groups, they have been rich with good memories. “Playgroups were the best thing
that ever happened to me,” says ISB’s Edna Ortiz. “I loved teaching them until the
very last class. My fellow playgroup teachers are the most fun people in the world:
I will always remember them for their enthusiasm on every project they worked on,
and will always admire their incredible creativity.”
      Former Enrichment Program Director and Founding Board Member Jen Hen-
riquez dates her own involvement with ISB to the playgroups, as well. “I can’t even
                                                                                          Amieva and Stephanie
                                                                                          Larrière have teamed
                                                                                                                            “Gracias, for this amazing and
imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t become involved,” she says.         up to create Brooklyn          unforgettable experience,” says
“Sam was one of the first playgroup students in 2004, when we had just moved              Beanstalk, a new pro- ISB Playgroup teacher Edna Ortiz
to Brooklyn. I have some students who started in playgroups in 2005, when they            gram with the aim of
were two years old – and they’ve continued into after-school classes and summer           “exposing children to Spanish and French in a playful, interactive and multicultural
camp every year since!”                                                                   environment.” Classes are slated to kick off this September, at various locations
      One of those early attendees was my own son, Zachary Taylor. “He loved it           in Prospect Heights, Park Slope, the South Slope and Sunset Park. To learn more
and always looked forward to going,” remembers Zach’s mom Line Jean-Louis of              about the new venture, check out their website at
those early Playgroups. “It helped him develop social skills, not to mention steadily         For ISB, it’s the right time to hand off the baton to specialized programs like
improving his French. It also helped him get familiarized with a more structured,         Brooklyn Beanstalk. When playgroups started back in 2004, very few French or
school-like environment.”                                                                 Spanish learning options existed for young children in the borough. Now times
      But while the school itself is moving on from playgroups, the good news is          have changed, and there are multiple venues for growing kids to learn in a multi-
that some of the beloved teachers will be carrying on this ISB tradition. Sophie          cultural environment. Says Skinner: “I’m thrilled to see that over the past six years,
                                                                                          both the demand for this type of program has increased, as well as the number
                                                                                          of programs offering language for young children. We’re proud to be part of
                                                                                          that development. We exit the field knowing that families will have access to many
                                                                                          quality programs in the years before considering ISB’s preschool and elementary
                                                                                              ISB won’t only be focusing on building our core school program, of course.
                                                                                          The popular summer camps and the usual array of after-school options will
                                                                                          continue. Beginning in September 2010 these programs will be offered at the
                                                                                          stunning new Carroll Gardens space, with schedules and registration information
                                                                                          up on the website beginning in August.
                                                                                              For all the teachers who helped expose many of Brooklyn’s kids to French
                                                                                          and Spanish, it’s been both a challenging and a deeply rewarding experience.
                                                                                          “My best memory is that no matter how shy the children were at the beginning of
                                                                                          playgroups, during the last class they would always come up to me and say ‘Gra-
                                                                                          cias!,’” Ortiz remembers. “That’s also my final word for all these years of teaching
                                                                                          so many ISB children: Gracias, for this amazing and unforgettable experience.”
International School of Brooklyn, 477 Cour t St., Brooklyn, NY 11231             718.369.3023
        “City Lights of Brooklyn” - A Great Success
        by Lara Tabac
            “City Lights of Brooklyn,” ISB’s fifth annual Spring Benefit, brought
        the school’s community together for a lively Brooklyn-themed night of
        music, cocktails and fundraising. Held at Smack Mellon in Dumbo, one
        of the borough’s thriving waterfront neighborhoods, the event was an
        opportunity to showcase how far the school has come since its founding
        in 2005 and share the direction in which it is heading with parents, staff
        and other friends.
            “Having an elegant and hip party just as the school is expanding
        really helps to spread the name of ISB as a Brooklyn institution,” says
        Stephanie Bayard, co-chair, along with Edna Ortiz, of the Spring Benefit
            While a vital source of support for ISB’s ongoing operational costs,
        the Spring Benefit is also the time when ISB honors the good works of
        other members of the Brooklyn community through its Community Excel-
        lence Award (CEA). This year’s honoree was Jessamyn Waldman, founder
        of Hot Bread Kitchen.
            The Spring Benefit met its fundraising target by bringing in $35,000.
        Three cheers for all who made this happen. I can’t wait for next year!

pg. 2
        5 Questions for Lucía Fernández Sánchez
        by Lisa Armstrong
        This year, Lucía Fernández Sánchez assisted in our Span-
        ish language classrooms through a program run by the
        Spanish government. It is a highly selective program for
        the schools, and we have been lucky to have two auxiliary
        teachers over the past two years, with a third joining us in
        the fall. The process is also highly competitive—and ben-
        eficial—for applicants: “There are only 27 positions in the
        country and some 3000 people that apply,” says Lucia.
        “It is challenging, but highly rewarding for people like me,
        who get to have a great job in their dream city!”

        Q: What classes did you teach at ISB?
        A: I spent most of my time in the second and third grade
        classes, where I helped to prepare material to help the
        children with their grammar and vocabulary. I ran the
        reading club and writing workshop every morning, which
        was a big hit with the kids as well as an efficient learning
        tool. I also worked in the K-1 class, helping children with
        their motor skills. This often involved a good amount of
        glue and little pieces, which kept the children excited and

        Q: Had you taught at the elementary school level before
        coming to ISB?
        A: Before going to ISB I hadn’t taught at this level. I stud-
        ied didactics and pedagogy in university, and also taught
        English to teens and adults in private lessons when I
        finished my degree in English Linguistics. Later, after I got
        my master’s in teaching Spanish as a foreign language, I
        taught at the university in Madrid.

        Q: What was it like going from teaching adults to teaching
        A: My experience with the children has been the most
        special step I’ve taken in my career so far. At the begin-
        ning it was a bit of a challenge, as I had never been so
        involved in a classroom with small children. But I soon
        realized it was a lot of fun and the work is amazing: I got
        to actually see the improvement and the learning process
        in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

        Q: You wrote a paper about “The Bilingual Brain.” Why do
        you think it’s beneficial for children to grow up bilingual?
        A: Research has shown that exposing young children
        to more languages is very good for their brains, as
        they learn to store information in a more advanced and
        efficient way. Bilingual children become curious teenag-
        ers, enjoy reading and arts, and are more open-minded
        adults, as a result of that understanding of the idea of
        “otherness” from the beginning of their lives.

        Q: What was the best part of teaching at ISB?
        A: My experience at ISB has been life changing. Now I
        know I have a real passion for teaching young children. I
        hope that I’ve helped the children to express themselves
        in Spanish, making it their own language. I also hope that
        I helped put the little seed of curiosity for foreign things in
        their little minds.

pg. 3
    At Play: The Cuddly and Wordly Brownstone Buddies
      by Catherine Colton
     Parents and grandparents looking for that special gift for a child often          During the K-1st Grade unit
lament the over-commercialized choices for dolls – from Disney’s princesses       on “Children around the World,”
to the über-accessorized American Girl doll brands. Now a new brand of soft       Janai brought in the dolls to her son
cloth dolls, Brownstone Buddies, is bringing an alternative option and a well-    Kimathi’s classroom. “As I introduced
thought educational tool to teach children about diversity of backgrounds,        each doll, you could see each child
ethnic origins and interests.                                                     relating to one doll or another,” said
     Brownstone Buddies was launched last year by two Prospect-Lefferts           Janai. “The dolls lend themselves eas-
mothers who are brownstone friends and neighbors - Janai Nelson (mom of           ily to an open discussion about geog-
Kimathi and Nandi Talton) and business partner Crystal Granderson-Reid.           raphy and the beauty of differences
The brand features eight different dolls whose background stories, personali-     in us all. Also, the children learn that
ties and passions are detailed each doll’s Brownstone Buddies “Passport to        it is okay to love math, science and
the World.”                                                                       reading.”
     “We wanted to create dolls that reflect the diversity of the people and           The concept for the dolls had
children in our own community,” said Janai and Crystal. The dolls live in an      caught the attention of FAO Schwarz
idyllic brownstone neighborhood in Anywhere, USA and represent many               executives at its Toy Audition competition in 2006. Brownstone Buddies
children across the globe. Each doll breaks a mold - Ama is a “Math Maven”        edged out more than 200 other toy concepts presented that year. The
whose parents are African American of Ghanaian origin and who is not shy          toy-store giant helped the co-creators manufacture, and then exclusively sell
about her love for numbers and shapes; Chin the Sports Fanatic is a Chinese-      the dolls. With the FAO exclusivity ending this year, Janai and Crystal plan to
and Korean-American boy who adores all things sports and engages his              distribute the dolls in other mass retail outlets in the US as well as abroad.
friends in fun activities; Maricela the Bookworm loves mysteries, adventure       They also hope to expand the Brownstone Buddies brand into publishing and
stories, art and poetry and keeps in touch with her Hispanic heritage.            television. Learn more at their website:

                ion s to ISff for                                                          10 Easy Ways to Support ISB’s Move
          atulatn and sta the
                                                                                           by Rebecca Skinner

   Congrtratio             g                                                               REFURBISH THE BLACKBOARDS
        is y completinof the                                                               Early-Mid July • Power sanding and cleaning
 admin ssfull           ss                                                                 COLLECT MOVING BOXES & PACKING SUPPLIES
     cce ation proce ducation!
  su dit               E
                                                                                           Early-Mid July • Drop off at 237 Park Pl, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm

    ccre Ministry of
                                                                                           WASH AND REPAINT RADIATOR COVERS
  a                                                                                        Early-Mid August
   French                                                                                  PAINT THE BASEMENT
                                                                                           Early August • This is a big project... the more the merrier!
                                                                                           CLEAN UP THE PLAY YARD
                                                                                           Mid-August • Litter removal, Weeding & Painting
                                                                                           SET UP THE LIBRARY
                                                                                           Mid-August • Unpacking books, Inventory, Barcoding
                                                                                           WRAP COLUMNS IN THE CLASSROOMS
                                                                                           Late August • Secure new padding to the columns
                                                                                           DECORATE THE HALLWAYS
                                                                                           Late August • Hang corkboards, artwork, etc.
                                                                                           GATHER TOYS FOR THE PLAY YARD
                                                                                           Any time! • Check your basement, Check the stoop sales!
                                                                                           DONATE Any amount gets us closer to our goal!
                                                                                           Any time! •

  Many Thanks to the PA Co-Chairs, Committee Co-Chairs, and Class Parents in 2009-2010
    Laura Kraber & Ben Talton, PA Co-Chairs
    Stephanie Bayard & Edna Ortiz, Benefit Co-Chairs
    Megan McGrath & Karin Van Thiel, Education Committee Co-Chairs
    Corinne Zalanskas & Caroline Mardok, Community Service Committee Co-Chairs
    Muriel Soenens & David Renard, Cultural Awareness Committee Co-Chairs
    Dan’ee Doty, Liane Fredel & Rob Stephenson, Yearbook Committee
    Sophie Amieva, Simon Fraser, Ayo Roach, Liane Fredel, Lara Tabac & Kris Gregory, Class Parents
                                                            And Thanks to ALL of the families who volunteered at ISB this year!
                                                                          pg. 4

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