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.
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.
Founded in 1929, the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) is an internationally renowned student organization committed to upholding the five pillars of scholarship, character, citizenship, service, and leadership within secondary schools. NJHS chapters can be found in all 50 states, and it is estimated that approximately one million students participate in chapters throughout the world. Members of this organization engage in local and school based community service projects, and meet regularly with the support of chapter advisers.
This year, 7th and 8th grade students at BASIS Independent Brooklyn became eligible to participate in our school’s very first NJHS chapter. Our school already has an established National Honor Society, and our chapter advisory board was thrilled to present this opportunity to some of our younger students. Our faculty council selected students to apply based on past academic and extracurricular achievement (students must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.5), and exemplary behavior. Once selected, students were required to write an essay outlining their interest in the organization, and their commitment to serving their school and local community.
Congratulations to the 2021 winners of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. We are thrilled to celebrate the inspiring student work, which in many instances powerfully documented life during the pandemic. Students have created visually stunning and meaningful imagery, and we wanted to share many of the pieces honored by Scholastic. We are proud to see them brilliantly uphold the BASIS Independent standard for setting the bar high for our school and entire community.
Across BASIS Independent Brooklyn and Manhattan, 19 students were recognized with a total of 40 awards in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition.
The final installation of our Student Ambassador blog posts ends with a snapshot of our Middle School Student Ambassadors who are super excited to meet and welcome all of our newly admitted and prospective students. They have so much to share with you regarding their experiences at BASIS Independent Brooklyn and are super passionate to speak with more students about our amazing teachers, academic curriculum, and student life. If you missed the profiles of our High School Ambassadors, you can take a look here, but for now enjoy the profiles of our Grade 5 through 8 ambassadors.
Just to provide a recap of our Middle School Program, our students complete a rigorous schedule in all core disciplines, including three separate, concurrent science classes (physics, chemistry, and biology), economics, world language, and a course in logic. Students can choose an elective beginning in grade 6 and a world language option in grades 7 and above. The spiral of the curriculum is essential and highly apparent in these grades, particularly regarding the revisiting of concepts in the sciences in greater depth with each passing year, as students prepare for entry into Honors or Advanced Placement (AP) level coursework starting in grade 9.
What does it take to build life-long skills of self-advocacy and independence?
At BASIS Independent Schools, our educational philosophy is centered around student autonomy and self-advocacy. We want to empower our students when they come to school each day; to do so, we believe students need to learn to exercise their autonomy, which allows them to take greater control of their education.
“It makes a huge difference to have teachers who are passionate about the subjects they are teaching in every class. It makes you more excited to learn!” –Sophie, BASIS Independent McLean
BASIS Independent Schools raises the standards of student learning to the highest international levels through our advanced, globally benchmarked curriculum. However, our schools are only able to achieve such incredible outcomes thanks to our passionate expert teachers—not just because they teach with expertise, but because each one inspires students to truly love learning. Good luck asking any of our students who their favorite teacher or class is; they will usually answer, “all of them!”
When our students enter the Middle School Program in grade 5 at BASIS Independent Schools, they leave behind the two-teacher model that defines grades 1–4 and are solely led by Subject Expert Teachers (SETs). Focused on high-level mastery, SETs are the shepherds of academic content; they have real-life experience in the discipline they teach, and often even hold advanced degrees in the field.
For PreK through high school, our Student Affairs team has launched a stepped up wellness initiative in September that will span the full academic year. Our deans and directors partnered with faculty to lead the charge for a "Wellness Year" that integrates wellness themes into year round programming.
"The whole Student Affairs Team had a meeting of the minds this summer, and all deans and directors discussed ways a Wellness Year focus could span all grades with themes that are relevant for students in PreK to high school," said Dean Darcy Golka of Primary Grades (2–4). "We worked on what students in our different age bands need to hear, and we spent time ensuring messages were age appropriate."
Monthly programming themes were designated based on what deans and directors knew were happening in students' lives and thinking through what was appropriate developmentally. They wanted to create a more robust program that would spark conversations among students about themes that go beyond wellness and tap into social-emotional learning.
Middle school is a time of substantial transition—academically and emotionally—for students as they leave the more nurturing elementary years and begin their preparation for high school and beyond. Because these years are filled with increasingly complex content, it is critical for students to build and fortify their foundational knowledge across a wide variety of disciplines.
This is the first in a three-part blog series that will provide an in-depth look into the BASIS Independent Middle School Program, which is designed to ready students with the knowledge, confidence, and independence needed to excel inside and outside the classroom, as well as provide them ample opportunity to discover their passions. This first blog post will focus specifically on the BASIS Curriculum in the middle school years, which has been honed and optimized to reflect today’s growing expectations in education.
Competitive athletics and sports can play a key role in the development of students. Our sports program aims to create a strong culture that brings our BASIS Independent Brooklyn community together regularly to cheer on our BEARS.
"My goal is to enrich our school culture with a healthy dose of competition," said Mr. McCollum, Physical Education Faculty member. "I want to show our students they can be scholars and athletes. In addition, I intend for our program to build a stronger sense of school spirit and sporting culture. It is my desire to see a thriving and competitive student body that continues to pursue excellence through both academics and sport."
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.