On the first day, Mr. Jason Griffiths ('97), Head Master, showed me around the school and gave me an extensive run-through of The Brooklyn Latin School's history; I learned about the school's policies all the way from admission, hiring and fundraising to curriculum planning and college matriculation. Jason also holds a wealth of knowledge about graduate programs and rising issues in the world of education, so we engaged in lots of conversation about the before and after of his work, as well. Needless to say, I learned a lot even in those first few hours.
Walking through the halls, one can't help but notice the inspirational and thought-provoking Latin quotations that line the hallways, each a symbol and reminder of the School's classical curriculum. Jason is also the school's founder and has modeled the School's curriculum after the model of Boston Latin, offering Latin to all students and intent on building its student's skills in the liberal arts from public speaking to structured writing and analytical thinking. While taking a tour of the building, everything from those quotations to the teachers' nameplates prefaced with Magister/Magistra (Latin for male or female teacher) serves as a quirky reminder of that mission.
That morning, I sat in on a conference call with the School's board of trustees as they discussed plans for the year's fundraising efforts. The School's faculty and trustees are all young professionals filled with vibrancy and a passion for education and the future of the School. Founded in 2006, the School is still in the process of planning its next moves and expanding its vision every day, which made it a wonderfully exciting place to visit. By the time I visited the classrooms, I was fully able to see how all of the meticulous planning that Jason and his colleagues have put into creating the school has come together to create such a wonderful learning environment for the students.
I spent most of the second day exploring classrooms and I was particularly impressed by the variety of teaching styles practiced throughout the school and how they all focused around The Brooklyn Latin School's central values. I sat in on multiple grade levels and subjects and instantly recognized common themes and continuity throughout disciplines and levels.
The faculty and administration put a lot of effort into making sure that the curriculum is cohesive and that every student is able to walk away from classes with skills that are applicable to a host of disciplines. The students truly appreciate and acknowledge the effort that goes into planning such a structured and specific education experience and I enjoyed talking to them about their experiences.
On a particularly exciting note, the School had recently received a grant allowing it to create two new computer labs and I happened to visit during the time that they were planning and mapping the details for the new spaces. Still a new institution, the school had renovated its library just the year before and Jason is constantly thinking of ways to enhance the school's facilities.
On the last day, I sat in on a faculty meeting for the Art History Department and listened and contributed to their conversation about how to restructure the curriculum while mapping the balance of skills and content taught throughout the course. That attention to balance is a large part of what I believe truly makes The Brooklyn Latin School special. Along with their staple traditions like declamation competitions to practice public speaking and Socratic seminars to practice seminar-style participation, ensuring that every student has a voice and is well-equipped to articulate their ideas in a classroom.
No question was off-limits and I felt completely comfortable around Jason and the faculty. I had plenty of questions and the faculty and staff took an interest in hearing my observations and were open to discussing the "why" of nearly every aspect of their method.
It was inspiring to see a school so young that has such a clear plan for its own and its student's futures. The faculty and especially the founding administrators have obviously worked tirelessly to make sure that their vision is carried out with precision and grace and the atmosphere for students, faculty and visitors is beautifully pleasant because of it. I was fascinated by the wonderful progress and enthusiastic cooperation that comes from a new institution without the impediment of long-standing administrative politics. Everyone admits that the New York City public school system isn't without it's flaws, but it was wonderful to get a first-hand look at the efforts that the faculty gladly put into their work everyday to further the school's mission. All of that hard work clearly paid off, too: during my visit, four students had gotten into their top-choice colleges and I watched them proudly put up pennants for their college destinations on the wall outside of the college office.
I would certainly recommend this Princeternship to interested students. My time at The Brooklyn Latin School certainly affirmed my interest in exploring teaching and administration and I'm extremely grateful to Jason for the opportunity to learn more about both the classroom and broader policy aspects of school administration.