AmPark is a small K-5 school, established in 2006, located within the Amalgamated Park Reservoir Cooperative Housing community in the Bronx. The residents of this community (in existence since 1927) were the co-authors of our proposal to establish this unique learning environment. AmPark is situated just steps from Van Cortlandt Park where our children enjoy their daily recess in the playground located there.
Our classrooms reflect diversity; ethnically, socially, and developmentally. Students and teachers are provided with opportunities to work collaboratively. Children remain with the same teacher for 2 years when possible, thus ensuring continuity of established relationships, structure and curriculum. Our classrooms are designed to provide a variety of opportunities for learning. Work time is an integral part of our day. During Work Time, children are encouraged to build, draw, paint, write, cook, sew, research and record, and to use peers, teachers and classroom materials as resources to answer questions and get support. Classrooms are organized so that students can work independently or in small groups. Materials are arranged to be accessible to children who learn how to use them safely and appropriately. Time is set aside for review and reflection of shared and independent work. Questions and comments from classmates often inspire students’ next steps.
Our program includes Music and Art with our full-time arts teachers. Our arts program is further supported through our partnership with the American Orchestra (Recorders and Mediterranean drums).AmPark is fortunate to be a Globe School for the Salvadori Architecture program of City College. This program is integrated into all academic areas , including literacy and social studies, while demystifying architecture for our young children. Our teachers and students benefit from their collaboration with and support from our part time Math coach (TERC math program, New York City Math Project, Lehman College) and our full time Literacy Coach. Our proximity to Van Cortlandt Park and other beautiful parks, enriches our science studies. Finally, support in the testing grades is provided by our part time testing coordinator who works closely with classroom teachers and students to prepare for mandated standardized tests.
Teachers design curriculum across all academic and arts disciplines to support individual children’s needs and interest and to provide multiple entry points into an area of study. Curriculum topics are generally broad enough to support and accommodate and encourage varied learning styles, interests and talents. Ongoing discussions that foster review and reflection are a pivotal part of students’ daily routine. Teachers are able to articulate children’s progress and development through careful observation, conferencing with children, documentation and looking at collections of children’s work.These practices enable teachers to develop deeper understandings of each child’s needs, interests and approaches to learning. Our efforts are focused on how children work with others, expectations children set for themselves, how each child thinks about work and how to best support and extend that work. This focus stimulates the staff to continually examine their own teaching practices.