Letter from Lara Zelski – February 12, 2020

Dear ANCS Families and Friends,

I am sure some of you also have conversations with neighbors and friends who may be interested in our school and are possibly considering sending their child here next year. While I know folks can simply go onto our website and learn what we do here and why we do it, generally, people like to hear from someone else. Even though I know you all understand our school, I would like to take some time to reiterate our mission and explain some of the finer points of our curriculum to you, so that you can share it with your friends and neighbors and it may be easier to articulate.

First, it is the vision of Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School to be a dynamic learning community where students become life-long learners, develop self-knowledge, and are challenged to excel. How do we accomplish all of this?

We strive to engage families and community members in our school by having open lines of communication and eliciting feedback and input into school-wide decisions. We want and expect families to take an active role in their child’s education by being involved in the classroom, attending school-wide events, and maintaining communication with the teachers. Our children benefit greatly when the parents are involved and interested in the goings-on at school.

We are inclusive of each child. We celebrate that we are all different and that each individual has something valuable to offer our community. Students learn from one another and we foster collaboration and communication among our students. We stress that there is more than one way to solve a problem and regularly ask our students to think critically about their work and explain how they found an answer or why they chose to apply a particular method over another to a set of problems. We are as, if not more, concerned with the process a child goes through to find an answer than the final answer in isolation. Each child is given the time and space to really think about what he/she is doing and why.

As constructivism is a philosophy of teaching and learning, it is difficult at times to put into words what exactly this looks like in practice. All constructivist teachers strive to create optimal learning conditions in their classrooms – small, personalized instruction, depth of content over breadth, interdisciplinary instruction, “real-world” learning experiences, and performance-based assessment. Learning occurs in whole-group, small-group, and individual settings, and can change from day-to-day as needed for optimal student learning.

We believe that by asking students to take an active role in their learning, to think critically and communicate about what they are learning, and be able to apply their learning to new content and situations we are preparing them to be productive and effective citizens. Ultimately, we want our students to be thinkers and creators and ready for a challenge.

If you ever have questions about what is going on in your child’s education or classroom, you should feel free to talk with your child’s teachers. This upcoming conference window is the perfect time for you to touch base with your child’s teachers and see the progress your child has made so far this year. If you have questions about school-wide curriculum, our instructional coaches Lesley Michaels or Veleta Greer, or Nicole King or I would be happy to discuss those with you. As always, I welcome your feedback.

Have a wonderful rest of your week. Don’t forget that ANCS is closed for mid-winter break from Friday, February 14th through Monday, February 17th. Enjoy your four-day weekend and we will see you back at school on the 18th!

Lara