A few weeks ago, we had photographer Troy House come in to take pictures of our students in our current school location (15 Snyder Ave) as well as photo-document the progress of our permanent school house, the 100,000 square foot new construction at 556 Columbia in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We sat down to talk to Troy about his experience, which he shares with us below.
Tell us a little bit about your work & professional background.
“I was a fashion photographer for 10 years, but in the last 10 years I transitioned into being an ad photographer and director."
With the shoot at 15 Snyder, what were you hoping to capture?
“I wanted to see what a day in the life of school was really like - I really wanted to capture that. It was interesting because I had no preconceived ideas coming in. I wanted to capture that, and probably most importantly how engaged the students were - how all the kids were in the learning process. What I learned is they were not being taught to, not just being lectured to. It’s great how involved they were in their learning."
Did anything surprise you?
“What did surprise me was how open and conversational all the classes are in both directions – teacher to student, student to teacher, and student to student. Looking back at my education it felt like 90% was lectures, but these conversations felt different, kids were are a part of it. I’ve never seen a more engaged English class than in Mr. D’Amato’s 7th grade class, for example. This was really the class that surprised me the most."
What was your favorite moment from the shoot at 15 Snyder?
“Absolutely, the surprise birthday party for Mr. Goldman. It’s not very often you see a teacher so happy about something students do for him. And he was absolutely surprised!”
Onto 556 Columbia, the site of our new school building. What is your favorite space in the new school?
“I am torn between the cafeteria and the 5th floor art room. I love the open multi floor aspect of the cafeteria. It will lend itself to amazing social interaction for children in their down time. As far as the art room, I longed to work in an art room with light like that. Picasso would kill to work in a studio like that.”
Did anything surprise you?
“How bright every room is. The school is much bigger than I imagined, and how open the overall floor plan is. I thought it would be square boxes, but it feels more open."
You've had the opportunity to not only see the BASIS Independent community in action in our temporary location but also see the space where our school will be calling home. What would you like to share with parents who have not had the opportunity to go into the space at 556? What about for those wondering about the learning environment at BASIS Independent Brooklyn?
“I was amazed at how happy the kids are at their current location, I am amazed at how the kids have embraced where their school is, location aside. I want to be there when the kids walk in and see their new school for the first time. It’s probably closer to MOMA than a school. Their mouths are going to drop when they walk in. I thought especially in the first grade class, how no kid felt not engaged, left behind. When the teacher asked a question, every kid raised their hand. They wanted to be called on. In first grade math, every single kid raised their hand. That is so surprising compared to my own education.”
For more of Troy's fantastic work, visit his website.