As an alumnus of the Saint Ann’s School, visiting for the first time in 10 years felt more like a homecoming than an exploration. I was able to reconnect with my former 8th grade art teacher, Charles Luce, who is now the head of the art department. “Luce” took me on a tour of the school with an emphasis on introducing me to teachers who’s classes I would be observing, so they wouldn’t be surprised by my presence in the coming weeks. He gave me a copy of the art department schedule for the 6th –12th grade classes and allowed me to create my own observation schedule based on my interests. Once he made a copy of the schedule to keep for reference, he set me loose to re-discover the school.
Saint Ann’s School is a non-sectarian independent school located in Brooklyn Heights, New York. It serves grades Pre-K through Senior High School and focuses heavily on the arts as part of its academic curriculum. The school does not give grades and instead teachers write page long anecdotal reports for each of their students. Because there is a heavy emphasis on self-directed learning, students are allowed to craft their own schedules in the junior and senior high school levels.
The school owns eight buildings that it uses for various parts of its academic program. The art department is housed in a brownstone across the street from the main school building. Most art classrooms are located in that building, the Rubin Art building, with the exception of the elementary school art rooms, and the photography studio. There are also exhibitions spaces that are housed in the main building.
My visit to the school reminded me of what is possible with children. Its easy to get bogged down in curriculum development and theories of education, but when it comes down to it what matters most is having passion for your subject and passion for teaching kids. The rest manages to work itself out.