The International Charter School of New York
New charter school in downtown Brooklyn with a global outlook
Too soon to say
Founded by a former diplomat, the International Charter School (ICS) of New York opened in September 2015 in downtown Brooklyn, in a space formerly occupied by the Brooklyn Friends private school. ICSNYC is the latest entrant in a plethora of charter schools that have appeared in rapidly gentrifying District 13. It opened with a kindergarten and 1st grade and will grow to become a full k-8 school. Its location, just a half block fromMetrotech Commons, gives children an outdoor space for play, surrounded by public art.
The school's first principal is Ellen Borenstein, a veteran teacher and administrator at schools in Westchester.
True to its name, International Charter's curriculum is based on a global theme using history as a "spine on which to nestle your child's learning experience," said school founder Matthew Levey, himself the parent of three children. Kindergartners learn about the ancient world, reading books about pre-European civilizations. Typical children's classics such as The Snowy Day won't be ignored, Levey said. By 2nd grade, children study the medieval age and in 4th grade, they focus on 1850 to the present. Fifth-graders go back to a study of the ancients, reading an abridged text of The Odyssey, he said.
Grammar instruction and phonics are integral to the literacy program. Levey says he expects students to be fluent readers by 3rd grade.
Math instruction balances conceptual understanding and computational skills, said Levey. "There's nothing wrong with memorization," he said. In its first year, the school used the Jump Math curriculum which is designed to build children's confidence in math with the belief that all children can excel at high-level math. However, midway through the first year, the principal decided to switch to the EngageNY math curriculum. Children are making better progress with that, Levey wrote in an email.
ICSNYC follows the Core Knowledge program, which defines what each child should know in all subjects at the end of every grade.
Classroom teachers are used in "creative ways" to teach art, music and physical education in the early years, he said. Nearby Mark Morris Dance Group brings in dance instructors once a week and Bent on Learning teaches yoga.
Small class sizes are a priority, with no more than 20 students in kindergarten and 25 in 1st grade, each with a head teacher and an assistant teacher. The school day ends at 4 pm.
For more on the founding of the school, see the New York Times story: Mathew Levey's Charter School Quest.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Levey says he is "eager to serve all families" and welcomes children with learning disabilities. A coordinator of special education works with children in small groups as well as within classrooms. "The goal is to address the underlying issues," said Levey.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery. Priority to District 13. Applications are due annually on April 1st. In its first few years, the school's founders anticipated openings for children from outside the district, especially for 1st grade. For the latest lottery results, see the school's website. (Pamela Wheaton, interviews & web reports, March 2015; upated April and August 2016)
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Brooklyn NY 11201