AltSchool Opens “Middle School of the Future” in Union Square
Students start class at newest AltSchool lab school designed in partnership with cutting-edge NYC architecture firm A+I
NEW YORK, NY – October 11, 2017 – AltSchool today announced the opening of its first-ever New York City middle school in Union Square. AltSchool's mission is to enable all children to reach their potential through a learner-centric education. AltSchool partnered with A+I—the New York-based architecture, design, and strategy firm renowned for creating forward-thinking spaces that encourage creativity and collaboration.
“Middle school is a critical time where students can drive their learning and explore the topics that inspire them,” said Max Ventilla, founder and CEO of AltSchool. “In Union Square, we had an incredible opportunity to design a school from the ground up based on how students learn. Here, we could design a school environment that supports each child’s unique journey.We’re thrilled to introduce this state of the art facility where middle schoolers can experience a student-centered education to become lifelong learners.”
AltSchool believes education quality can be improved for all students—and parents who send their children to AltSchool want to be part of that change. Its lab schools serve as real-life innovation centers, where teachers, researchers and engineers work together to develop a technology platform. AltSchool hopes this platform will one day help educators everywhere provide a learner-centric education for each student. AltSchool’s tools are currently being tested and improved within its lab schools in New York and California, as well as select partner schools around the country.
Union Square is the third campus in New York, joining current elementary schools in Brooklyn Heights and the East Village. Within each lab school, students receive a highly personalized education spanning both academic and social-emotional learning. Rather than replacing human interaction, AltSchool technology empowers educators: to foster meaningful connections with each child and to create lessons and assignments that encourage critical thinking. Students are encouraged to drive their own educational path and to develop lifelong habits like problem-solving and grit.
Alex Ragone will serve as Head of School for AltSchool Union Square. With over two decades teaching and running New York City schools, Ragone is widely respected in the local education community. Last year, he led the opening of AltSchool’s East Village campus.
“We have a team of amazing educators who empower students to guide their own learning with the help of our technology,” said Alex Ragone, Head of School for AltSchool Union Square. “We're preparing students for the world they'll actually live in -- one that values character, creativity and collaboration, as well as academic knowledge.”
AltSchool and A+I designed the Union Square campus with the student at its center. Unlike traditional classrooms, flexibility is physically built into the school to accommodate change and diversity in student needs.
“Our goal was to create a school where the space essentially becomes another teacher,” says Brad Zizmor, co-founder of A+I. “Union Square features a design lab that can support changing needs throughout the school day, like transforming from a maker-space into a computer lab. To facilitate small group or individual work, each classroom offers glass-encased breakout alcoves. To maintain a strong community, the campus is centered around a large multipurpose room with stadium seating for whole school gatherings. The common theme is choice: to encourage autonomy in students and help teachers provide a personalized education.”
Beyond the dynamic space, the location also supports AltSchool’s emphasis on small, community-based campuses that help blur the boundaries that often exist between school, work, and community. Students regularly use the city as a space for learning. They build relationships with local merchants, dig into the rich history of New York, and leverage local experts to complement in-class education.
AltSchool recently opened 2018-19 applications for its three New York City schools. The Union Square middle school campus will start with a smaller class in its inaugural school year and will eventually grow to 100 students from 5th through 8th grade. Pre-Kindergarten through 4th grade students can apply to the Brooklyn Heights or East Village campuses and will matriculate to Union Square. AltSchool Union Square is located at 90 5th Avenue. A virtual tour of the school and application information can be found at: https://www.altschool.com/lab-schools/new-york/union-square.
As a public benefit corporation and a Certified B Corporation, AltSchool’s mission is to enable all children to reach their potential. Together, its world-class team of educators, researchers and technologists are co-developing a product and service platform in its network of lab and partner schools. The platform serves as the foundation to help schools offer a learner-centric education that is personalized for each student and fosters student agency. Headquartered in San Francisco, AltSchool is backed by Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative donor advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and many other key investors. More information at www.altschool.com.