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Hands-on Approach To Learning On Long Island (Video)
A one-of-a-kind Long Island school is taking a hands-on approach to learning.
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New Private School for Pre-K Through 5th Grade Opening in E. Northport
Like most parents, Mimosa Jones Tunney and John Tunney, who own and operate popular Huntington restaurants Besito and The Shed, are passionate about their children’s education. When they couldn’t find a school they thought would best prepare their young boys, they decided to build their own.
The School House, located at 106 Vernon Valley Road in East Northport, is the result of the entrepreneurial couple’s dream to bring a new way of teaching to Long Island. Enrollment is currently under way for pre-K through fifth grade. The building, the former home of a local preschool, has been undergoing a renovation in recent months. Walls were knocked down, new windows added, and the result is a bright, open, sun-filled space where children can thrive.
“We’re creating a new curriculum as an alternative for the Common Core implementation called the American Emergent Curriculum,” Jones Tunney, an education writer, said. This method combines a number of ways of learning, including the Montessori method, project-based learning, critical thinking and group dialogue, and art and design, along with many elements of traditional American schools such as sports programs, performing arts, and more.
“We are the only school of our kind in New York and probably the country,” Jones Tunney added. “It’s a model we hope to roll out across the United States. Long Island is the perfect place to launch a new curriculum and a new school because we’re halfway between the naturalists and scientists on the East End and the city, and a phenomenal community here in East Northport.”
The two primary classes will be mixed ages (an element of Montessori) and students ages 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 (pre-K and kindergarten) will play and learn together. “The genius part about that is the kindergartner gets to practice their skills with the little ones and reinforce what they learn, and the little ones are looking up to the older ones,” Jones Tunney said. The large rooms are filled with many different tactile stations that incorporate everything from practical, everyday life skills to practicing fine motor skills and exploring math and science.
There are also two first- through third-grade classrooms and one fourth- and fifth-grade classroom; plans are to add another classroom in that age group. While there are no technology screens in the school, there are plenty of examples of tactile technology, where students can touch and feel as they learn. For example, all classrooms will have a vertical grow wall, where students learn about gardening all year round, and there is a cool augmented-reality sandbox that teaches students topography and geography.
“Our fourth-and fifth-graders will build one of these [augmented-reality sandboxes] as part of their project-based learning,” Jones Tunney said. “So, they will do the carpentry, which is the best way to learn math, and they will do the technology, and they will loan the second one to the Northport school district. Then, our kiddos will go and present it to the kids there as part of their public speaking portion.” (This is one example of how The School House hopes to work with the local school district.)
The school’s art program follows the Reggio-Emilia method, which expands on the Montessori method, and encourages students to work with art materials that go beyond paint and crayons.
In addition to their educational backgrounds, educators at The School House have real-world skills, including architecture and molecular biology. “I’ve created a balance between bringing on educators who have a Montessori background and also have a traditional background, so we’re able to meld the two,” Jones Tunney said.
Other planned daily activities in the school’s curriculum include performing arts, sports, and civics. There’s an outdoor classroom, a school nurse, library, and a dining hall. Oh, and a two-acre farm on the school’s grounds will include chickens and other animals that children will have a hand in caring for and feeding; as well as a garden they will help tend. In fact, the school’s Basil Project will incorporate learning about, planting, and harvesting basil; developing packaging; building a farm stand; selling their product; analyzing the sales; and ultimately, deciding what to do with the money they make.
“After years of writing about education, I finally got to the point where I had to build it,” Jones Tunney said. “We had to really show that this can work and hopefully then it inspires traditional schools and others to start adopting what we’re doing here.”
Enrollment is currently under way. Visit the school’s website for more information, including admissions and tuition.
The Island Now
The School House, East Northport - Private Elementary School
The School House’s American Emergent Curriculum is a multi-disciplinary approach to learning combining what we know works in education with what we love about American traditional schools, particularly sports and civics.
Thoughtful environments include low-hanging art gifted by a renowned artist, an outdoor classroom and a schedule of visiting scientists – all of which speak to the dignity and respect TSH fosters between school and child.
Although standards are integrated into the AEC curriculum, The School House chooses assessment techniques like observation, documentation and 2-hour weekly team meetings to make certain that all children are exceeding not only academic standards but mastering relevant skills like communication, kindness, self-advocacy, public speaking, problem solving and invention.
The mission of The School House (www.theschoolhouse.org) is to build the best elementary school in the world by focusing on the child. Extraordinary educators lead the team, the majority of whom have Master’s degrees and speak a second language. All have been trained to follow the child, recognizing that every human is an individual learner.
Entrepreneurs John Tunney and Mimosa Jones Tunney renovated the former St. Paul’s/LuDay School Building in East Northport and created a bricks and mortar non-profit that will house an exemplary education for Pre-K through 5th grade.
“Americans have always been inventors, doers, creators and problem-solvers and The School House cultivates this during a child’s most important developmental years. Everything we do here is child-driven and is made to recognize both what humans need to be full, life-long learners, but also what our economy will need in 15-20 years – thinkers.” says Founder & Principal Mimosa Jones Tunney.
After three highly-successful Open House events at The School House, John Tunney has seen this sweet spot in education explode, “We have families enrolled from all over the Island. We’re the most affordable tuition on the Island and we’re attracting outstanding parents from every community who love our campus and a curriculum that pulls from the very best pedagogies. At Besito, we’ve been building kitchens in Mexico to feed about 4000 children a week for the last 7 years. It was time for me to start doing something here on Long Island and for education on the whole.”
The School House will operate on the Northport-East Northport School District calendar starting classes on September 5th 2019. There is limited availability for the 2019-2020 School Year and interviews are in progress. Parents can inquire and apply online at www.theschoolhouse.org