2010 BFS AppealPosted: November 11, 2010
Dear Friends of Brooklyn Free School,
This is our first Fall in our new home at 372 Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. What an exciting and eventful beginning of the year! As usual at Brooklyn Free School (BFS), the array of activities and events could not have been predicted — so much of what goes on is inspired by, planned for, and executed by the children.
With the milestone of purchasing the building behind us (but not all the costs!), we turn our attention towards the continued development of resources students need to actualize their dreams–more classes and activities with improved materials, more trips, and ensuring that staff are supported and focused on helping students realize their goals and the goals of the community we are building together. It is for this reason that I am asking for your support today.
The energy and feeling of possibility has not diminished since we moved last winter. Here are some highlights from this still young school year:
• $5000 grant from the LEGO Children’s Fund for the BFS Aquarium Project — based on a student’s dream of creating a science center to study coral reefs and other aquatic life.
• BFS 1st Annual Holiday Train Show — the brainchild of a student who has a great love for trains, students are already busy preparing for this exciting event.
• This American Life — the renowned NPR radio show, has chosen BFS as the subject of a piece they will be running at the end of November on kids who have a say in decision-making in their lives. Some students are assisting in production of the piece and are taking an ongoing class throughout the production period.
• The Young & Independent “zine” — a brand-new student run publication based on life at the school. The students are writing stories and helping to produce this “do-it-yourself” magazine.
• BFS afterschool program — started this year and gives our working parents a very affordable option for their young children to have a place, modeled on the BFS philosophy, after school hours.
• The 2nd Annual Democratic Education Symposium, to be held at Medgar Evers College — co-sponsored and planned by BFS students and staff, this one-day conference was conceived as a way of starting a dialogue on how to make education more responsive to the needs of students, parents, and teachers.
• Little Shop of Horrors — selected by a group of students as the 6th annual school musical, will involve 23 children, ages 5-19, participating through acting, singing, dancing, music, makeup, set, and costume design.
Daniel Pink, best selling author of Drive, the Secret Truth About What Motivates Us, concludes
The secret to high performance and satisfaction — at work, at school, and at home — is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves, and the world.
As applied to education, Pink’s ideas are revolutionary. And everything we have done as a school so far has come through the collective efforts of a community dedicated to a revolution in learning. Autonomy and self-direction, supported by the community’s resources, guidance, and nurturing — allowing our children and their projects to flourish, are the crux of the pedagogy at BFS.
Equally a part of our foundation as a school is the premium we place on maintaining an ethnically and socio-economically diverse community. Parents from all different backgrounds and economic circumstances apply to our school as there are no other alternatives in Brooklyn where children can be themselves and contribute to a democratic process of learning. This balance is not accidental; it depends on the support of our community and charitable organizations, which so far has allowed BFS to thrive with 80% of all students receiving financial assistance. We need your continued support to keep this model alive — to keep our school serving the needs of our socio-economically and ethnically diverse student body.
One of our most consistent supporters, the O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation, has offered us a challenge: a $10,000 matching grant, if we can raise at least $10,000 through our fundraising efforts. We are asking you to help us achieve this goal.
This is truly an exciting time in education, as the country debates the merits of various models of education reform. BFS is at the forefront of meaningful change in education for the 21st century and beyond. Please give generously to this amazing community and help us meet the Edwards matching grant challenge!
Thank you, as always, for your continued support.
Alan P. Berger