For decades, parents have had to wade through conflicting advice about the most effective way for children to learn to read. Now, with the accumulation of long-studied research coupled with the support of brain science, staunch supporters of "balanced literacy" are changing their philosophies and acknowledging the merit of phonics. That is good news for parents, but how do you choose the right school with the best reading program that effectively uses phonics?
At BASIS Independent Manhattan, we have spent years adjusting and improving our curriculum. We are resolute in our approach focused on teaching phonics so that our students love to read while advancing beyond standard benchmarks to excel in reading, writing, and spelling. In this blog, we explore the successful structure of our literacy program with insight from BASIS Independent Manhattan Early Learning and Primary Program teachers.
BASIS Independent Schools are characterized by creativity and spirit, and they are driven by best practices from the top educational systems in the world. As our private schools branch out across the U.S. and the world, one secret to maintaining excellence network-wide rests in our central Curriculum Team. These professionals work tirelessly to assess data across schools with a shared goal - to improve student outcomes deliberately, quickly, and meaningfully.
Currently BASIS Independent Schools educate students in Brooklyn, NY; Fremont, CA; McLean, VA; Manhattan, NY; and Silicon Valley, CA. A new campus will open this fall in Bellevue, WA. Our world-acclaimed curriculum taught by Subject Expert Teachers draws families to the schools; however, a key strength that is not as well understood rests in our private school network’s ability and commitment to using data to improve continually, rather than rest on our reputation for excellence, particularly given our rapidly evolving world.
“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 data around academic outcomes inform this approach; the collaboration among our teachers and administrators is based in large part on taking advantage of the insights our data provides. We take seriously our responsibility to act on these insights to improve our students’ experience.”
If you ask a middle school student, “What’s your favorite subject?” A very likely response is PE, but not when you are talking to a student-athlete like Kira. She says, “In my opinion, PE doesn’t count.” Instead, Kira goes with history because “Mr. Wirth is a really good teacher and he has a way of making you interested in things that you might not have thought were interesting.”
This brief exchange opens a window into the world of a young student who successfully balances a schedule of competitive tennis tournaments and challenging academics. That is not an easy accomplishment, but one so many kids try to achieve. Here is how Kira does it.
Have you seen your child build a magnificent tower just for it to fall down, or study so hard for a test but not do well on it? We are all familiar with failure and must face it regularly, but when it comes to our children it can be difficult to see them struggle. Enter the desirable traits of resilience and perseverance, as well as the difficult-to-teach skills of critical thinking and problem-solving.
At BASIS Independent Manhattan, we delight in giving students the opportunity to explore problems from new angles, apply their knowledge to the real world, and learn all of this through hands-on work and projects. This type of academic and developmental growth is elucidated by the journey of a PreK-4 student through our spiraling engineering curriculum.
BASIS Independent Manhattan opened its doors in 2017 and four years later our growth continues with the expansion to an Upper School campus for our grade 6-12 students. For the first half of this year, Mr. Brandon McNeice (Head of School, Upper) has been busy giving tours, hiring teachers, developing programming, and even selecting desks and chairs. Opening a new campus comes with challenges, but ones that Mr. McNeice is approaching with gratitude and gumption. We dove in from there and asked Mr. McNeice more about his goals, work, and what he envisions for the future.
BASIS Independent Manhattan's expansion to include an Upper School Campus will open in fall 2021 in Chelsea (556 W. 22nd St) and will serve grades 6-12. The Upper School Campus, specifically, is a harmonious dichotomy of a historic and modern facility with an established yet innovative approach. This can be seen in the exterior and interior renderings shared below, as well as understood through an introduction to the leadership and culture that is being built.
Twice a year, our grade 2-5 students enthusiastically participate in a unique math challenge that gets them thinking logically, critically, and creatively. The Noetic Math Contest encourages students' interest in math, expands their problem-solving skills, and conveys the message that “It is COOL to be good at math!”
In Fall 2021, BASIS Independent Manhattan’s growing future becomes a reality with an expansion to two campuses. The Upper West Side location will be home to PreK-5 students, while the new, upper campus in Chelsea is set to serve grades 6-12. Although our community will span across two buildings, we remain one school united by the collaborative leadership of our Heads of School.
We are eager and excited to welcome Mr. Han Lee as the incoming Head of School for our main campus (PreK-5). He joins us from the West Coast where he was an all-rounder at BASIS Independent Fremont and Silicon Valley. In an effort to get to know him, we are sharing this Q&A session that highlights his experience, vision, and passion.
The 2020-21 school year continues with uncertainty as schools face sudden closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We started the year in distance learning, which was covered in Part I of this blog series. We successfully moved to in-person instruction five days per week for our PreK-2 students and a hybrid model for our grade 3-9 students where they are on campus five consecutive school days and then home for distance learning five days.
Yet, we are always prepared to “flip the switch” for a move from fully in-person and hybrid to an all distance learning model. Our readiness can be proven by the thoughtful planning and implementation of our schedules and curriculum. Robert Runyon (Director of Academic Programs) explains more in detail how our staff excels in this realm, families are supported, and students are set-up for success.
We are excited to welcome you and your family to another admissions season and school year. We have so much to share with you and wanted to spend some time introducing our campus, but more importantly, outlining our unique High School Program. You can read more below regarding our curriculum and commitment to educating students to the highest international levels.
Inspired by the blissful feeling of uncovering connections, our blog Eureka! Manhattan is about sharing moments that capture the essence of what it is to be a BASIS Independent student, teacher, administrator, or family.