We had a chance to chat with Sara, whose daughter is a 2nd grader
in the lower school program at AltSchool Brooklyn Heights. Thank you, Sara, for sharing your story!
What has your experience been like at AltSchool?
My daughter loves school. She’s happy, inquisitive, and can’t wait to go to school in the morning. She used to be exhausted at the end of the day. And I’m a teacher, it’s hard not to feel exhausted after school! There isn’t a time that I’ve visited AltSchool where everyone isn’t happy to be there. I love the energy and enthusiasm of the teachers, and I can see that in my daughter.
The social-emotional support has helped her as well. Before we would spend so much time on homework, because she didn’t want anything to be wrong. She didn’t want to write because she didn’t want something to be spelled wrong or her handwriting to be imperfect. Now she feels the support of her teachers and she doesn’t worry about mistakes. She even walks around with a journal and pencil and wants to write down everything! She feels comfortable accepting failures, yet she knows there are high expectations of her.
What were you looking for in a school?
I was looking for an individualized education. Before AltSchool, my daughter tested into the Gifted and Talented program in New York City. We were fortunate that she was placed in one of the best schools in the city with high student performance. I had hoped she would have an individualized education, but that wasn’t our experience. It just wasn’t the right fit; my daughter wasn’t happy.
Although she had high test scores that placed her into the Gifted and Talented program, she wasn’t thriving academically in school. I kept on asking myself: as a bright and intelligent girl, why isn’t my daughter flourishing? She wasn’t seen for what her potential is.
I don’t want school to taint her love for learning. I want her to have a school experience that allows her to explore herself and her own interests.
How has she grown academically?
I’ve seen a huge amount of growth. She woke up to a whole new way of thinking, applying her knowledge, and sharing information. I’ve seen her critical thinking skills develop as well as the way she solves problems.
Through the project-based learning, she’s learned a lot about the process of asking questions, finding information, and seeing it through. At the high school level, where I teach, it’s hard for students to make the connection between content areas. At AltSchool, looking for connections is the scaffolding of her education.
How would you describe AltSchool’s use of technology in the classroom?
Because of the technology at AltSchool, she’s getting feedback immediately from teachers. She can learn how to correct a mistake quickly, and assessments don’t feel as permanent.
And yes, I want my daughter to do well in school now, but I want her to do well in life. There are things that traditional schools and I can’t provide in order to prepare her for work situations. I’m currently taking a course on Google Docs. I don’t know anything about it, but my 7 year old can explain it to me now!
How would you describe the teachers?
I want to hug her teachers every day! They are energetic and consistent. Every kid gets the same amount of individual attention and love. They are creative and inspired by the kids, and in turn they show their students an enthusiasm for learning. I’m so proud to be a parent at this school!
What’s one word you would use to describe AltSchool?
There are many words! Family. Home. Inspirational. I am inspired as a mom and also as an educator. When I pick her up, I watch the teachers and see how happy the students are — it makes me want to be a better teacher.”