New Green Building to Match the Curriculum

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p.s./i.s. 276 a convenient truth for downtown

by kara bloomgarden-smoke

even before p.s./i.s. 276 battery park city school moved into a new green building this past fall, residents were excited about the school.

"before we moved into the building, people in the neighborhood would send me pictures of the progress," said terri ruyter, the school's principal. "that's how invested the community is. i think it is because the community wanted another school in the neighborhood for a long time."

heralded as the city's most environmentally conscious school, p.s. 276 moved into a new green building in southern battery park city this past fall after spending its first year in "incubator" space at the dept. of education headquarters half a mile away.

"we have a beautiful new school," said parent coordinator erica foley weldon.

"it is all green construction with solar panels and state of the art everything."

p.s. 276 has sweeping views of new york harbor, the statue of liberty and new jersey.

the school gets 50 percent of its energy from solar panels, focuses on recycling and composting, and has a weather station. with an outdoor science laboratory, p.s. 276 emphasizes early science education.

"we have a science teacher who studied early childhood science education at bank street and she integrates the natural world into the curriculum," said ruyter.

for 6th graders, there is an environmental component to the science curriculum. during a unit on the weather, the older kids viewed an inconvenient truth in order to add context to the curriculum.

the school also places great importance on art and music.

"we aim to educate the whole child," said weldon.

small classes of 20 to 25 students ensure that students get plenty of attention. the school now runs kindergarten through 2nd grade, with a 6th grade, and will grow as the children do. by 2013, ruyter expects the school to reach full capacity as a kindergarten through 8th grade.

the community plays an important role in the school, and the administration credits the amount of parent involvement.

"we have a great community and pta," said weldon.

"the green building is lovely, but it's mostly about the community," said ruyter. "we have a great parent body and even people who don't have kids are very proactive and involved. there is really a sense of this being a neighborhood school."

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