It doesn't come as a surprise that families considering BASIS Independent McLean are eager for opportunities to get "inside" and see what it will be like. As a new school, we know how valuable it is for families to touch and feel the experience of going to a BASIS Independent School. Luckily, BASIS Independent Brooklyn is not too far away from our campus here in McLean. The campus welcomes any familis considering our program in McLean to go for a visit. A number have, in fact, already made the journey up north to visit. One mom in particular emailed us with such enthusiastic feedback that we felt compelled to share it with you.
"My husband and I attended an Information Session at BASIS Independent Brooklyn after a co-worker told me she was considering sending her 9 year old son to BASIS Independent. My husband and I have two daughters aged 2 and 3. They currently attend a Montessori school which we are all very happy with. My husband and I knew that we would need to transition our girls out from Montessori at some point in the future but weren’t sure when (ie. 1st grade or later). When we attended the Information Session, we became very excited that BASIS Independent was the right school for our daughters – but hesitated about whether we wanted to pull them out of Montessori so soon.
Our hesitation was both because we are happy with the Montessori program and because the Early Learning Program at BASIS Independent is new (McLean and Brooklyn will be the first to implement it in the U.S. – there is a program in China now, but it is in its pilot year). Another consideration was wondering if the shared charter/independent curriculum would be a constraint at the Independent schools that have the benefit of a selective admissions process.
Our tour of the Brooklyn campus addressed all of our concerns and left us confident and excited in our decision to send our children to BASIS Independent McLean this fall (we are praying they both get accepted)! My husband and I were both blown away by what we observed. We observed students that were performing at levels unheard of when I think back to when I was in school, teachers that were dedicated and serious about their students’ education, opportunities that are truly unparalleled, and an education program that is well thought out, tested and proven. Especially since this school runs through 12th grade, I think it presents a unique opportunity in the Northern Virginia area because it allows for a level of continuity both from an educational approach perspective, but also in terms of a continuity of friendships built and developed through the years.
Examples of what we observed:
Students that were performing at levels unheard of when I think back to when I was in school.
- Very young students seeing symbols and reading in Mandarin. Fourth grade students were describing their interpretation of a reading assignment – and building upon one another’s ideas in such a mature way that I could not believe they were 4th graders.
- The subject matter that was being discussed in the classes we observed and the manner in which the children interacted with each other and the teachers was very mature.
Teachers that were dedicated and serious about their students’ education.
- A 6th grade English teacher sitting in a 4th grade English class and aligning with the teacher afterwards to ensure they are working in conjunction to build upon what the children are learning.
- Teachers who were not actively teaching (their class was not in session) but who did not have a minute to spare because they were dedicated to preparing for their next class.
Opportunities that are truly unparalleled.
- AP classes starting from 8th
- A classroom of 2 people: one student and one teacher – because the student had placed several grades ahead of others students his age.
- A trained opera singer leading her students in a Mandarin song celebrating the Chinese New Year.
- A music teacher with 3 Ph.Ds. whose knowledge base was unbelievable.
- Art class where students won the national prize in digital photography.
- A classroom dedicated to the practice of different types of movement (ie. Yoga).
An education program that is well thought out, tested and proven.
- Students learning engineering, Latin, logic and physics at such a young age.
- Teachers focused on how children were absorbing information and working with them 1:1 to ensure they were up to speed.
- Coordinated classes that build upon and reinforce material learned throughout the day.
- A strong environment of learning. Peer tutoring.
This was the place we knew we wanted our children to be; I am convinced it is the best education available to our children. While I stated that we were happy with the Montessori program our children are in – my discussion with the BASIS Independent Director of Enrollment in Brooklyn whose son also previously went to Montessori before enrolling in BASIS Independent reminded me of some of our previous frustrations with Montessori. While I believe in Montessori, I do think that their approach is limiting in that it is somewhat rigid. My daughter exhibited readiness for advanced concepts in math and language when she was in the pre-primary level (18 months - 3 years) but despite this, she was not introduced to the next level of material - because it would have needed to be brought into the classroom and available to all students – and due to the younger children in the course they said they could not do that. Even now, when my older daughter is in Primary, they are saying that she should wait till she is 4 years old for certain material, even though we are covering that material at home together in the evenings. Seeing the teacher providing 1:1 instruction to the student in a class of 2 spoke volumes – as did the Director of Enrollment who faced similar restrictions when it came to her son.
We also viewed a demo classroom that would be used for PreK-3 and PreK-4. My daughters instinctively ran to different items in the room and began engaging in different activities. In some respects it was similar to Montessori – but the biggest takeaway is that the program takes the best of all teaching approaches and applies those – so you are not constrained by one teaching method. Another thing to consider that I found comfort in is that even though the BASIS Independent philosophy is giving the teacher free reign – there are still core competencies at each level that the teachers need to adhere to."