Our school aims to bring together educators who are knowledgeable, driven, and believe that with the right support and encouragement, any child can excel. As part of our teacher profile series, we wanted to feature someone who exemplifies that approach. Mr. Festo is one of our fourth grade Learning Expert Teachers. He leads students through what we call a "bridge year" -- a time focused on growing student independence and building the skills to make connections organically.
Mr. Festo is about to start his third year teaching at BASIS Independent Brooklyn. He graduated from the University of Vermont’s elementary education program, and he has taught in classes ranging from Kindergarten to grade 5 in Connecticut, Vermont, and even New Zealand during his time abroad. "I have never come across a school community so dedicated to the success of their students," said Mr. Festo. "Year-round, the BASIS Independent Brooklyn faculty and staff are excited about what they are doing for and with their students. Seeing this attitude and spirit is what made me realize this was where I wanted to teach."
Today we feature one of our second grade Learning Expert Teachers Ms. Cameron-Scott, who is about to start her third year teaching on our campus. Ms. Cameron-Scott hails from a family of educators, and she always knew she was a teacher at heart. She believes in the power of early literacy to assist students in reaching their academic potential and work at an accelerated pace. “If you introduce a child to literacy at an early age, they will make great strides in all academic areas," shared Ms. Cameron-Scott. "For reading is the key to all understanding.”
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.
Through the innovative co-teaching design of the BASIS Independent Brooklyn primary classroom—the Learning Expert Teacher/Subject Expert Teacher (LET/SET) model—two teachers work together to serve students’ different needs in each class throughout the school day.
Improving upon the traditional co-teaching model of lead teacher and assistant teacher, the expert knowledge of each individual BASIS Curriculum Schools teacher serves a unique purpose. Both teachers are experienced professionals who possess deep understanding of their respective fields.
Unlike the traditional self-contained classroom led by one teacher, or one teacher and an aide, BASIS Independent Brooklyn students in grades 1–4 benefit from the expertise of multiple full-time teachers, including our Learning Expert Teachers (LET), who guide students as they move between classrooms throughout the day. Students thus have two full-time, qualified teachers in each class, resulting in a unique, pedagogically-robust classroom environment.
Imagine that you are back at school sitting in a class you excel in. You might be a little bored because you already read ahead in the textbook, and you zone out when the teacher talks. You know this already! Or maybe you’re in a class you don’t like very much because you struggle with the material. Why is the teacher going so fast? You barely understood the last lesson! Now imagine there was a second teacher in that classroom, one who knew your strengths and areas for improvement, who could work with you to make sure you were achieving your potential in the best way for you. That second teacher in the class helping students while the first teacher leads the class creates the SET/LET relationship at BASIS Independent Brooklyn.
We spend a lot of time thinking about the word "community." What does it means for us and our students at BASIS Independent Brooklyn? "Community" is a noun, but it acts like a verb; a community is ever-changing, growing, and shifting. Our school community at BASIS Independent Brooklyn, the community of Red Hook, and the larger New York City community are all in constant motion. This is the city that never sleeps, right?
Helping our students understand community and the importance of joining, creating, belonging, respecting, and growing, is a pretty big idea to wrestle with.
Good thing we've never been afraid of big ideas.
Sharing her thoughts on community, BASIS Independent Brooklyn Head of School, Ms. Hadley Ruggles states, "students often ask about their relationship to the world around them. It is critical that a student feels the comfort that comes with a community and a sense of belonging, while also recognizing what makes us a collective whole and what defines us as individuals. We foster this sense of inquiry by immersing students in their community."
On Monday, May 9, we jumped at the opportunity to connect students with neighboring Red Hook Seniors by attending the Torch Relay at the Red Hook Recreation Center and showing their support for the Brooklyn Senior Games.
BASIS Independent Brooklyn offers a warm welcome to seasoned New York City educator, Stella Moon, who joins our founding Early Learning Program faculty!
Stella Moon's life passion is working with early learners; she brings to BASIS Independent Brooklyn over two decades of experience working with children from ages 2 to 5. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology at Hunter College in New York City. She then completed a Master of Science degree in Early Childhood Education at Hunter College (and graduated with a perfect grade point average!). She holds New York State Professional Certification in Birth through 2nd Grade.
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.