The East Village Community School
MANHATTAN NY 10009 Map
The East Village Community School
Families living in the heart of the artsy East Village are attracted to The East Village Community School for its small size, progressive curriculum that emphasizes hands-on learning, and extra recess to ensure children learn valuable social skills. The school draws a diverse group of students of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds who mix and mingle in class. Students frequently leave campus for field trips, and teachers help children make sense of their world with pretend play.
Building and location: Housed on one and a half floors of a red-brick building, East Village Community School (EVCS), has classrooms outfitted with cozy child-sized furniture and shelves stocked with books, and which are just big enough for the small classes. The school shares the building with Children's Workshop School, and a small District 75 program, which serves students with disabilities. The schools share the cafeteria, auditorium, a small gym, and a brightly-painted library with donated designer Eames chairs. EVCS and Children's Workshop share the same artwork-filled and tight hallways to get to their classrooms. There is also a new playground with climbing wall and basketball courts.
Along one stairwell, a small red door opens into a rooftop sanctuary exclusive for the EVCS school community. Murals and inspirational quotes were painted by a visiting artist on the three brick walls that bound the outdoor space. Students used the school's kiln to create ceramic tiles, which decorate tree pots and flower planters in the courtyard. One tree with pink blossoms commemorates the life of an EVCS student who passed away.
School environment and culture: The school draws a diverse group of students of different races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds from the East Village. Most students live in the East Village. "[The school] continues to reflect the neighborhood," said Principal Robin Williams. Faculty spends a lot of time emphasizing the value of community through school projects, such as involvement with the Penny Harvest and Lower East Side Ecology Center, which teaches students ways to be environmentally friendly.
EVSC values play time. "Recess is very important," said Assistant Principal Bradley Goodman. As of September 2008, children started to recieve 40 extra minutes in the morning to romp around in the school yard before class starts at 8:40 a.m. in addition to recess at lunchtime. Goodman says since the extra recess was added teachers observed that children seem better able to focus in class. An "inquiry team" of teachers is also examining the effects of the morning recess on the children's general experience of school.
Teaching and curriculum: Teachers embrace EVCS's philosophy that school is about providing children with a collection of experiences that help them understand the world. Students go on trips both near and far, including walks around the neighborhood, and an outing to New Jersey to collect water samples and fish from the Hudson River for their classroom aquarium. In one 1st grade class, a study on farming asked students to write articles and put together their own non-fiction magazine (8-12 pages) about different animals. In one corner of this classroom, grape vineyards, tomato plants, and bee hives complete with a pretend beekeeper's costume and smoker were built by the children with wooden blocks and other household props as part of their imaginative play.
Teachers at EVCS believe that children learn best when they are able to tap into their imagination to connect with their surroundings. A teaching artist from the Phoenix Theater Ensemble and a classroom teacher took students on an imaginative "hike over mountains" in their classroom, prior to a lesson on the Lenape people.
Bridge classes, which mix two consecutive grades in one class, were common when the school first opened but in recent years, the school has moved away from this structure because teachers feel more confident teaching one grade at a time, the principal said. EVCS now has only a few bridge classes.
Partnerships and programs: Teaching artists from both the Phoenix Theater Ensemble and Rosie's Broadway Kids work with students on their dramatic skills. Third and fourth graders get weekly violin instruction at EVCS from the Third Street Music School instructors. A special program also allows any interested student to have two additional years of instruction at the music school for free.
Family participation: EVCS has a very active Parents Association and School Leadership Team, according to Mary Talbot, the school's parent coordinator. Parents at EVCS and Children's Workshop School sell organic popcorn once a week in the building to raise money to purchase biodegradable lunch trays made from sugarcane pulp. Parents are also invited on "Family Fridays" to sit in class with their children.
After school: Oasis Children's Services offers a program until 6 p.m. in the building for a sliding scale fee. Students also attend programs at other organizations in the neighborhood, some of which are free and send counselors to pick up participants from EVCS.
Special education: Most children with special needs are placed into Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes. In September 2008, EVCS opened its first self-contained class.
English Language Learners: The school enrolls very few ELLs. Students receive support from an English as a Second Language teacher, who also works at Children's Workshop.
Admissions: Citywide. Priority to District 1 students and siblings of current students. Families should contact the school to attend a tour prior to filling out the District 1 application.
After graduation: Most students attend popular middle schools, including Tompkins Square, Institute for Collaborative Education, and East Side Community High School. (Catherine Man, May 2009)