What do you look for in a great school?

This summer intensive program has challenged my mind in ways I didn’t expect. It’s been rough, but I’ve grown immensely through the painful process.  Now it’s time to start looking ahead.  Within the next few months, I have two options ahead of me: 1) propose a new NYC public school of my team’s own design; or 2) interview to find a school where I can assume the role of principal.  They each have their own pros and cons–and I’m leaning towards proposing a new school.  If it works, great!  If not, I can always interview to find a school.

So in an ideal world, what qualities would you want your child’s school to have? What programs? What educational capabilities? What type of culture? What types of partnerships with community or business organizations? What have you seen at work in schools near you?  This can be anything from Kindergarten to grade 12.  I look forward to hearing your ideas.

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About jaimeanne

I'm me. Graphic designer extraordinaire, urban master teacher of social studies, former adjunct professor, high school principal, and now most importantly-- Mom to the cutest little girl ever. I try to live by the quote, "Work like you don't need money, Love like you've never been hurt, And dance like no one's watching." I believe in Christ, and sometimes I'm just trying to figure out what He wants me to do. This blog chronicles that journey.
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3 Responses to What do you look for in a great school?

  1. Netter says:

    I love that you can design your own school. I would love to see more opportunities for kids to express their creativity through the learning process. I think the most learning happens when subjects are used together to provide an enriching experience, rather than just studying one subject with the objective of passing a test. Let’s learn math through music; English, Grammer and Creative Writing by putting together a newspaper for the school (which also teaches business skills); History by staging debates about issues (which teaches public speaking); Physical Education with intramural teams instead of just jumping jacks and push ups (teaches planning, teamwork). Bring back the science fair, which provides a reason to use the scientific method in addition to presentation skills, creativity, and more. I have to say that the best learning experiences that I had in school were when the teacher stepped away from the text book and provided an interactive experience with the subject. I don’t know how to make that a requirement of teachers — maybe one day of enrichment learning for every 4 days of “book learning”.

    What a challenge! Thanks for asking for opinions…it was fun to think about it.

  2. Silvia says:

    I agree with everything Netter says and just want to add to it. I think this new school should require uniforms. There’s something to be said about the discipline that comes from uniformity as well as the problems you can avoid from “gang colors” or who’s got more money by who’s wearing the latest and greatest. It focuses their energy on studying rather than fashion.
    You have to have artistic programs as well, such as theater and band, etc.
    Sports are also important. Focus on activities that teach life lessons they can take with them forever.
    I love the idea of bringing science fairs back. Along with that, bring back writing contests, even book contests where students write their own books or poetry. I think finding the right teachers with the same vision is key to all of this.
    You’ll need afterschool activities as well since that’s when a lot of kids have no place to go and get in trouble. Set up volunteer organizations where they learn and give back to the community. Find out what’s needed in the community and focus on that, showing the kids how everyone can make a difference for the better. You’ll have to come up with incentive programs for people to participate, something that benefits them.
    Learn history by actually visiting some historic sites. The East Coast is full of history and what’s more fun than a field trip.
    Start showing them fields they could work in early to show what’s needed to make their dreams come true. Take them to job sites, what does IT do? What does a mechanic do? A photographer, a journalist, a nurse, the list can go on and on.
    OK, I’m going on and on now. Basically I’m saying make the school fun, but with enough structure and discipline to keep the kids in line. I know that’s easier said than done but I know that’s something you can do. No matter where you end up, you’ll do great. A school would be lucky to have you as a principal.

    Thanks for letting me ramble… 🙂

  3. Jaime's Mom says:

    Those ideas were great, Netter and Silvia. Having experienced several irresponsible people in my time, I think having some exercises on how what we do or don’t do impacts on society could be a very positive lesson.

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