It was a banner morning for the students and teachers at Williamsburg Northside Schools’ (WNS) Lower School, which celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community art project in front of the brand new building at 299 North Seventh Street, at the corner of Meeker Avenue.
“The number of families has grown from four to over 350 over the past 15 years and we are thrilled to bring this beautiful school building to meet the growing needs of the students and community, as well as to continue the mission of our school,” said Head of Schools Gina Farrar.
That mission is to provide child-based and child-led learning programs that are “inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education and regard children as strong and capable individuals.”
For mom Erica Bletsoe, that has meant being amazed at her five-year-old daughter Violet’s growth. “The things that come out of her mouth are amazing and just the way she thinks and explores things – it’s a different way than I learned,” she said. “It’s more about comprehension and less about drilling.”
Daniel Jumpertz agreed, noting that his son Lewis’s experience in pre-k at Williamsburg Northside worked so well that the whole family is excited about his start in first grade this year. “The strong emphasis not on just testing [is great],” he said. “We like the bigger philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach [developed] in Italy.”
The private school includes an Infant and Toddler Center that enables the school to accept children from three months through fifth grade.
“There’s room for everybody [in Williamsburg],” enthused Assemblymember Joseph Lentol. “We have an eclectic mix of great public schools in the neighborhood, as well as public charter and private schools like this.”
Former New York City Department of Education Chancellor Harold Levy – who also serves as chairperson of MetSchools, of which WNS is a part – said that ribbon cuttings and schools “represent a form of beginning.”
Levy added that schools like WNS show a “commitment with programs typified in the Common Core program that exposes kids to critical thinking. . . I’m hoping this program becomes a center of learning in the Williamsburg community and a source of learning for afar.”