As BASIS Independent Schools plans its newest expansion into Manhattan, we asked LaNette Hodge, the Director of Admissions for BASIS Independent Manhattan, former Director of Admissions of BASIS Independent Brooklyn and current Brooklyn parent, to give us the scoop on some frequently asked questions about the BASIS.ed model. BASIS Independent Manhattan (K-8) joins sister school BASIS Independent Brooklyn (pre-K-12) on the roster of BASIS.ed-managed private schools. Here, Hodge offers her insight on the educational mission driving BASIS Independent Schools.
How would you describe the values and mission of BASIS Independent Schools?
BASIS Independent Schools, which are part of the BASIS.ed-managed family of schools, are rooted in the fairly straight-forward mission of raising the level of student learning to the highest international levels. When the first BASIS school was founded in Tucson in 1998, Dr. Michael and Olga Block, both of whom had taught Economics at the university level and were very familiar with K-12 education practices from abroad, envisioned an academic program that takes best practices from education systems from around the world and implements them in a pre-collegiate setting.
A core value of our program is believing in hard work as the driver to success and feeling accomplished. You could say that the notion of “grit” is important to us. There are such lessons to be learned in trying something that is pretty hard, maybe failing, learning from it, and discovering how to be successful and overcome obstacles.
What differentiates BASIS Independent Schools from other independent schools in NYC?
Rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, our program offers a well-rounded, accelerated curriculum. Students study Mandarin each year up until grade 5, when they switch to Latin for two years, and then from grade 7 and on have their choice of foreign language. Additionally, all elementary students take engineering, physical education, fine arts, drama, and music, integrated math and science, humanities, and an interdisciplinary, project-based course called Connections. In the elementary years, all students have two teachers—a Subject Expert Teacher, responsible for delivering high level academic content in each classroom, and a Learning Expert Teacher who is responsible for ensuring that content is mastered and that, quite simply, students love coming to school each day.
After they complete our elementary curriculum, students take chemistry, physics, and biology each year in grades 6-8. They also sharpen their critical thinking and writing skills in a year-long Logic class in grade 7 and learn to see historical, political, and societal issues through a different lens with a year-long Economics class in grade 8. As an Advanced Placement (AP) program in the upper grades, our students are all required to take a minimum of six AP classes, which is well within their grasp after years of accelerated learning in the early grades.
BASIS.ed-managed schools seem to emphasize college prep; how does this translate into your Early Learning Program (pre-K) and Kindergarten?
We actually think beyond the notion of college prep, reframing this idea of “prep” around what skills students will actually need to be successful members of society. Of course the most tangible outcome of “prep” is looking at college admissions and giving students the opportunity to have the strongest application possible, and we have an amazing track record with that, but so many of the skills that make students succeed in college and succeed in the workplace are learned early on in the Early Learning Program, Kindergarten, and the primary years. These are skills like how to respectfully disagree, how to make an informed decision based on a set of information, how to work on one project for a long time (and successfully budget time), and how to share.
How would you describe what makes a student successful and joyful at BASIS Independent Schools? Are there qualities inherent to most BASIS Independent students?
Our culture is extremely supportive; students are regularly reminded how important effort is, how healthy it is to fail or not be the “best,” and how important it is to learn to rely on the help of peers, and how to be a helpful peer. Students who embrace and are not afraid of challenge are successful and find great joy in their time at BASIS Independent Schools. There is a great diversity among our students, so the unifying qualities between them are a very important few; they embody our overall values as a learning community, love to learn, and involve themselves in lots of different types of activities where they grow and challenge themselves.
And how important is enrichment and extracurriculars to the growth and development of your students?
Extracurriculars and enrichment are very important! They foster additional opportunities to collaborate, develop new skills, hone existing skills, be a part of a team, and so on. The way we develop our enrichment offerings is very student-led. We allow students to be entrepreneurs and create their own clubs and activities, which in and of itself is a strong learning opportunity. Some examples of what we offer in Brooklyn are a Minecraft club, ballet, soccer, fencing, cooking club, Model UN, and much more.
To learn more about BASIS Independent Schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn visit basisindependent.com/nyc! Attend the information session on Tuesday, September 20, at 10am at 795 Columbus Avenue. Register today.