AmPark Neighborhood School is a PreK-5 school with approximately 400 students, located within the Amalgamated Park Reservoir Cooperative Housing community in the Bronx. We are celebrating our 13th Anniversary this year. The residents of this community (in existence since 1927) were the co-authors of our proposal to establish this unique learning environment.
AmPark has a wonderfully active family community, with dozens of events and celebrations taking place across the year, including our Harvest Festival, AmPark Olympics, AmPark's Got Talent show, and movie nights.
Our classrooms reflect diversity: ethnically, socially, and developmentally. Students and teachers are provided with opportunities to work collaboratively. Our classrooms are designed to provide a variety of opportunities for learning. Project-based learning is part of our curriculum. For example, our 2nd graders engage in a bird study that includes reading, writing, science and art. The Audubon Society visits our school and leads bird-watching tours. Our 5th graders release trout into the Hudson River as the culmination of their study, which includes hatching and raising the trout in their classroom. Students research, write, measure, predict and read as part of their extensive study of the survival of animal life in the Hudson.
Children are encouraged to use peers, teachers and a wide variety of classroom materials as resources to answer questions and engage in inquiries. Classrooms are organized so that students can work independently, with partners, and in small groups. The workshop model provides time for direct instruction, independent work, and class share time. Children are encouraged to review and reflect on shared and independent work. Questions and comments from classmates often inspire students’ next steps.
Our curriculum includes Music and Visual Art with our full-time arts teachers, who collaborate with our classroom teachers to integrate content area studies into the arts. Every grade receives Music and Visual Art instruction 4 periods a week throughout the year. Our arts program is further supported through our partnership with Inside Broadway. AmPark has an art room and a music room, where students learn to play Orff instruments.
Teachers and students benefit from our collaboration with Teachers College Reading and Writing Project consultants, and our Math consultant from Lehman College. These partnerships provide professional learning opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals through workshops, in-school learning lab sites, demonstration lessons, and planning sessions.
At AmPark, every grade has FOSS science kits to support the science curriculum. Our proximity to Van Cortlandt Park and other beautiful parks enriches our science studies, and our partnership with the Audubon Society enriches our children’s educational experiences.
Teachers design curriculum across academic and arts disciplines in order to support individual children’s needs and interests, and provide multiple entry points into areas of study. Curriculum topics are generally broad enough to support, accommodate and encourage varied learning styles, interests and talents. Ongoing discussions that foster review and reflection are a pivotal part of students’ daily routines.
Teachers are able to articulate children’s progress and development through careful observation, conferences with children, documentation and examination of children’s work, and ongoing informal assessments. These practices enable teachers to develop a deeper understanding of each child’s strengths, needs, interests and approaches to learning.
At AmPark, our efforts are focused on understanding how children work and learn independently and with others, setting goals and expectations alongside the students, and supporting their efforts to extend their learning. This focus stimulates the staff to continually examine their own teaching practices.