by Fauve T., 7th grade Student Ambassador
Our Student Ambassadors Program is a way for students to help share their perspectives on our school and the broader community. One of our 7th Grade students volunteered to create a blog post featuring what she loves about this year so far.
1- Classes are challenging, but that doesn't mean we don't have fun. Chemistry is one of my hardest subjects, yet my teacher Ms. Susanto finds ways to make it exciting too. One day we figured out how many fingernails we would need to cover the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Many of my teachers are approachable and make jokes during class to keep us focused. The teachers also have student hours where they can answer many of your questions in an informal setting.
As the Associate Head of School, Ms. Rose Miller-Sims focuses on how to best support students and faculty to achieve at their highest level in a joyful environment. Ms. Miller-Sims first joined our faculty as a Learning Expert Teacher for the Primary School, because she wanted to be an integral part of a community with a strong culture of learning and curiosity. She loved the BASIS Independent approach to challenging students in ways that inspired autonomy and encouraged creativity.
From teacher to Student Affairs Director, Ms. Miller-Sims has proven to be a star within our network, finding new professional growth across Student Affairs during her six-year tenure at BASIS Independent Brooklyn Upper School.
Ms. Miller-Sims graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was a modern language major studying both Italian and French. While an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Padua, Italy. Ms. Miller-Sims later attended the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University where she received a Master of Arts degree in foreign language education. Ms. Miller-Sims received a Master of Science degree in general and special education from Touro College.
“While it is always a difficult choice to leave the classroom, I was excited for the new challenges that moving into an administrative role provided. During my time as a teacher, I saw how crucial having an excellent, supportive admin team is to the success of a school, and I am excited to bring a fresh perspective from my roles in the classroom and years as a Director of Student Affairs to my role as Associate Head of School.”
The transition to school can be both exciting and anxiety-ridden for students and parents alike. Joy in meeting classmates may be mixed with fears of how to make new friends. The thrill of new challenges may mingle with concerns about being in a classroom away from home.
Stella Moon, an Early Learning Teacher at BASIS Independent Brooklyn, has been advising parents on separation anxiety for decades during her many years teaching preschool. She had some tips to share with families in the month before school starts.
As Director of Student Affairs for BASIS Independent Brooklyn's Lower School, Samantha De Leon's goal is to cultivate productive and positive relationships with teachers and families so that all students can achieve at their highest levels.
“At our Lower Campus, every moment that the kiddos are working in their classrooms they are deepening their curiosity, building their resiliency, and thinking critically about their world. This strong foundation sets them on a path to not just be personally successful but also to be a part of the success of their global community. I am eager to be a part of their journey and support them at every stage of accomplishing their goals.”
Ms. De Leon was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She received the Gates Millennium Scholarship and attended Brown University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in elementary teaching. After twelve years of teaching and curriculum consulting, Ms. De Leon decided to transition to administration as the Director of Student Affairs at the Lower School Campus.
Nearly every week our school leaders field requests from families across the country to build a school near them. Families place a high value on giving their children an innovative, well-rounded education—one that supports accelerated learning, independent thinking, creativity, and critical inquiry from the very first day. The first BASIS Independent Schools opened their doors in Brooklyn and Silicon Valley during the fall of 2014. Now our private school program is well established as offering the highest international level of learning after graduating classes of seniors in California as well as New York City and Washington D.C. metro campuses.
Today we want to share and celebrate network growth from coast to coast:
“It is critical that we have a continuity of excellence at BASIS Independent Schools,” said Toby Walker, Vice President of BASIS Independent Schools. “That we hold ourselves to high standards, and that we learn from each other as school leaders and teachers across our network. The demand for our program is humbling, and we are committed to making it available to students and families.”
Five years ago, Ms. Forde joined our History Faculty and quickly demonstrated her incredible dedication and innovation as an educator, which also made her a favorite teacher among students. This summer Ms. Forde accepted the role of Director of our High School Program, which was just recognized as the Best Private College Prep High School in Brooklyn according to Niche.com and ranked #16 in the category in New York overall.
Ms. Forde graduated from Williams College with her bachelor’s degree in history and classics, and she was honored as a Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellow during her years on campus. She received her master’s degree from the University of London and her post-baccalaureate from Bryn Mawr College. She also pursued coursework ranging from anatomy to cellular and molecular biology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Medical School, and Georgetown.
Similar to many BASIS Independent Schools educators, Ms. Forde started in academia. After obtaining her degrees, Ms. Forde worked in clinical research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. She co-authored two research publications on anxiety while at the university. After a few years in the clinical research setting, Ms. Forde decided to switch careers to education. Before coming to BASIS Independent Brooklyn, Ms. Forde worked directly with elementary and middle school students on their reading literacy and mathematics ability in preparation for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program.
From the very first day BASIS Independent Brooklyn opened to students, Michael Mandeville stood apart as a leader among our faculty. He shaped our French program from the middle school years through high school, including a very popular Senior Capstone class exploring French literature. For the past several years he also served as the French Subject Expert Advisor across all BASIS Independent Schools. Now he is excited to lead our Middle School program in collaboration with Dean Holly Goodin.
Mr. Mandeville received his Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude with a double major in letters and French from the University of Oklahoma in 2010. In 2014, he received his master’s degree in French literature from the University of Oklahoma, and he was formally recognized for excellence in teaching by the University Provost. During his master’s program, he received a scholarship to participate in Middlebury College’s summer Russian program.
On June 24th family, faculty, and students gathered together at the Palm House in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to celebrate the accomplishments of our Class of 2021. Our thirty-two graduates are now poised to continue their academic careers in top colleges and universities across the country.
During the ceremony, valedictorian Elizabeth C. and co-salutatorians Jacob H. and Joshua S. offered thoughtful reflections on their experience as a class and looked ahead to all that is in store for them. We wanted to share with our community since we were inspired by their words.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many things were disrupted. A large number of students, staff, and families found ways to cope and deal with the changes through service projects, which we have profiled extensively in the past year. One other trend we recently became aware of was the proliferation of businesses in our school community. While sequestered at home, some of our students and staff began to find their entrepreneurial side. Today we wanted to profile a few of these for you.Mackerel Studios
Junior Andres M. enjoyed learning AP Economics with Mr. Duwan this year, and he just shared with us a project creating nautical-themed bracelets he has been working on for months inspired by the class. Mackerel Studios gave Andres the opportunity to combine his "love for the ocean and the idea of how mental and physical restrictions should not stop you from doing anything in your life."
Growing up Andres and his family were always drawn to the water, due in large part to his father's experience in professional sailing. Andres' sister has Cerebral Palsy, and the family looked for ways to allow her to enjoy and learn as much as anyone. They worked hard to find programs that make sailing possible for people with disabilities.
A team comprised of four BASIS Independent Brooklyn 7th grade students -- Olivia M., Polly S., Sabrina M., and Sahana C.-- was just named the New York team winner in the You Be The Chemist Challenge. The Challenge is a competition hosted by the Chemical Educational Foundation (CEF) in which teams of 5th-8th grade students explore chemistry concepts and the role of those concepts in their community.
The competition was held virtually this year due to COVID-19. Teams participated in a virtual event where they answered timed questions and submitted a video on sustainability, scientific phenomena, and ways that problems faced by people in their community can be solved using their knowledge of chemistry and science. Ten thousand students from 266 schools competed in the challenge this year.
Inspired by the blissful feeling of uncovering connections, our blog Eureka! Brooklyn is about sharing moments that capture the essence of what it is to be a BASIS Independent student, teacher, administrator, or family.