New Voices School of Academic & Creative Arts

330 18 STREET
BROOKLYN NY 11215 Map
Phone: (718) 965-0390
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 15
unzoned
specialized arts
Noteworthy
Noteworthy Special Education
Principal: FRANK GIORDANO
Neighborhood: Park Slope
District: 15
Grade range: 06 thru 08
Parent coordinator: NYRMA PARRA

What's special:

Rich arts and strong academics.

The downside:

No physical education for 6th graders; limited after-school sports.

The InsideStats

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Our review

Housed on the top two floors of a 100-year-old elementary school building, New Voices has a rich arts program, strong academics, and a family-like atmosphere. With a curriculum that dedicates more than five hours a week to performing and visual arts instruction, it draws a diverse group of students and enjoys strong parent support. 

Principal Frank Giordano is especially pleased with the 2010-2011 addition of chorus to visual arts, theater, instrumental music, graphic arts and dance. He is also ramping up the academic curriculum, especially in math and science, while trying to increase the number of seats available to children with learning disabilities.

Situated on the border between Sunset Park and Park Slope, the building has high ceilings, hardwood floors, and hallways painted a soothing lavender. Original details include elaborate iron bannisters, decorative moulding and mosaic floors. PS 295, a small arts-focused elementary school, shares the cafeteria, library and auditorium. The gym is no more than a small alcove off the cafeteria.  Parents contributed money and time to further improve a newly refurbished auditorium and carve out a sizeable dance studio in the basement. They also brought in new cabinets and countertops for the art studio.

There are six classes on each grade level. Reading, writing and social studies are combined into one “humanities” class. When 8th graders read works like “Animal Farm” and “Antigone” they talk about historical context as they learn vocabulary, writing style and grammar. Teachers target instruction by using different media and providing ample opportunity to do projects.  An 8th-grade class watched the movie “The Devil’s Arithmetic” and studied cartoons of Hitler to get a fuller understanding of the Holocaust.  In math, 6th-graders are exposed to algebra, geometry and probability.  By 8th-grade the most advanced students are ready to take the 9th-grade level Regents.  Giordano is hoping to add an accelerated track in science, so capable students are prepared for the Life Sciences Regents by the end of their middle school years.

Even as budget stresses increase, Giordano funds partnerships with New Victory Theatre, City Center and NYU. Theatre with New Audience assists in introducing 6th-graders to drama through a 12-week study of Shakespeare which culminates in a trip to Duke Theatre to see a production.

Sixth-graders are introduced to each of the arts so they can choose what they want to specialize in for the next two years. With several periods a day dedicated to arts, 6th–graders have no physical education or Spanish. In 7th and 8th grade, students pursue their chosen art for expanded periods of 1 ½ hours three times a week. 

Student work is proudly displayed throughout the building and shows a rich variety of approaches to instruction in writing, math, science and art.

Giordano knows students by name and they are comfortable approaching him in the halls and even in class.  In the dance studio, he told one girl he thought she could do a better job following the routine as her class worked to perfect it for an upcoming show. She took the criticism with a smile and said she would try harder.

Special Education: The school offers collaborative team teaching (CTT) classes with two teachers on each grade level.  In 2011-2012, there will be two CTT classes in 6th and 7th grade and one in 8th grade.  The school strives to provide support services in the classroom rather than pulling out students.

Afterschool: The school offers combination of enrichment and, academic support including book clubs, a newspaper and a yearbook. The drama club produces a musical.

Admissions: This school is popular in District 15 with 700 5th-graders listing it as their 1st or 2nd choice in 2010, for 180 seats. The admissions process is competitive, with interviews and auditions. Giordano says he is looking more for desire than formal training and experience. The school takes children at all academic levels

High school admissions: Students tend to gravitate to high schools that specialize in the arts and smaller schools.  Popular choices are LaGuardia, Professional Performing Arts School, Telecommunications, Murrow, Bard, Beacon and Frank McCourt.  A few students have also gone to Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech. (Sara Doar, May 2011)

 

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