Across both our Lower and Upper School campuses this November, the Wellness month theme was gratitude. Students and faculty explored what it means to be grateful in class and recognize the self-awareness it involves. Our students were challenged to see what they are grateful for and take it a step further—to express their gratitude in ways that would help develop a culture of service.
Today we want to feature how our school community has come together in so many wonderful ways this fall to be of service to the Red Hook community through the following programs:
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.
Dear Families and Staff,
During the quiet months of summer, I always take time to reflect on the past year. The 2020–2021 school year sparked a period of constant introspection both as a community and country. It will stand apart for decades to come due to the pandemic and the many changes that ensued. Now I wanted to share some lessons learned, celebrate accomplishments, and pay tribute to our 2021 graduates.
What We Learned in 2020-2021
While we weathered the pandemic storm in a year that we hope will be like no other, we prioritized following the advice of scientific and public health advisors. While we learned—along with all our peer schools—that health mandates evolve based on changing data, we also realized the importance of remaining nimble with the health of the community as a priority.
Our community cares for each other. Thank you for staying home when sick and making mindful choices when thinking of travel and social plans. We are proud to have experienced minimal cases of community spread, and we attribute that to each family following our community agreement.
Primary School students pose on PJ Day last year. Note that even Baby Yoda is wearing a mask.
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.
Today we honor our Class of 2021 and celebrate news of their college acceptances to date. A majority of our graduating students started with us in middle school, and they had a strong foundation from which to rise to the academic challenges presented in our high school program. Seniors began their last year virtually during a pandemic, and just this month the option of the COVID-19 vaccine was opened to them. This change hopefully marks a turning point that will permit them to experience campus life this fall. We look ahead to their bright future, confident in their preparation to be a force of positive change in our world.
"The class of 2021 should stand proud in their individual and collective accomplishments," said Head of School Hadley Ruggles. "Individually, they carved out personal identities that match their passions and what they hope to accomplish in the world. Collectively, they developed lasting relationships with teachers, friends, and administrators, which aided in their efforts in the college search process."
"It has been my greatest professional honor to witness their growth — supporting them when they requested it, but mostly granting them the autonomy to explore and achieve their goals," continued Ms. Ruggles. "These independent thinkers will not shy away from a challenge and will confidently go in the direction of their dreams."
Photo by Danny D. '22
Today we have great news to share that offers hope for the future in the midst of the current pandemic. We want to celebrate Class of 2020 college acceptances. Our 16 seniors started with us right before or during high school, and they were willing to rise to the academic challenge of a school unlike any they had attended before. We are now excited to watch them switch focus to college and grow into strong leaders poised to be a force for change in our world. Their varied interests span across disciplines ranging from medicine to humanities, social sciences to the arts.
"We are proud to share that approximately 75 percent of our seniors received acceptance letters from one of the top 50 national universities," said Head of School Hadley Ruggles. "When you expand that to the top 80 universities and colleges, that percentage increases to approximately 88%. Additionally, more than half of our students in our senior class of 16 received acceptances to universities or liberal arts colleges ranked in the top 30 in the nation according the U.S. News & World Report. These include Columbia, Wesleyan, Georgetown, UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, Barnard, University of Rochester, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill."
Our global classroom initiative recognizes the importance of exploring, understanding, and celebrating cultures around the world. This year, students added a new, rich layer—recognizing the responsibility to help the under-served not just near our campus but also across the world. Two of our high school students organized a project that models a sense of civic responsibility as global citizens that we wanted to share in the hopes of inspiring others.
In the fall, junior Himani S. and freshman Riana S. decided to organize a clothing drive to benefit the Mother Teresa Orphanage that serves children with disabilities in India. Families at our school were quick to respond generously, sending in enough clothes to fill seven suitcases. Himani and Riana then traveled to India with their parents and personally delivered the donations and proceeded to volunteer their time.
Many of you have already met Dave Carty, who at 6'4" quite literally towers over our other faculty and staff on campus. He signed on as our Head of Operations this summer and quickly become an integral part of our community, overseeing all operations from facilities to bus service. Mr. Carty also happens to be a former college basketball player and stepped up to be the assistant coach of our Gr. 6–8 CONSAT basketball team!
Driven by a focus on his own three children, Mr. Carty followed an interesting road to a career in education. We wanted to share his perspective as our Head of Operations as well as a parent of three who all attended independent schools from PreK through high school.
Dear Families and Staff,
During the quiet months of summer, I take time to reflect on the past year. 2018–19 marked a milestone year. Our school "turned five," and our first class of seniors graduated in June. Throughout the year student accomplishments across all grades also continued to reaffirm the vision behind all that we have built here in Brooklyn.
We want to recognize the individuals who have been here since our school doors first opened and those who have joined us along the way. No matter what year you began, you were—and are—intimately part of raising a school. As we like to say, “a school grows in Brooklyn,” and with it so many children and professionals. Betty Smith’s seminal work, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, serves as an iconic example for the school. We—like the characters in the book—have grown together and developed our community by facing common challenges and sharing in joys, successes, and celebrations. Like the symbolic tree, we have set down roots in order to preserve our ties to each other.
Cognitive theorist Jerome Bruner wrote, “We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development” (1960). We believe that even our youngest students at BASIS Independent Brooklyn are capable of engaging with and understanding the most difficult material if it is structured and presented appropriately. BASIS Curriculum Schools ensures major course topics are “spiraled,” or re-addressed at each grade level with increasing complexity.
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.