With October more than half over and the 2009-10 school year in full swing, last Sunday seemed like the perfect date for Town Square’s third annual educational fair, Schoolfest. The festival features booths, workshops and presentations from a variety of educational institutions, from pre-K to college, Catholic School to Montessori. Though the very first Schoolfest was held at the Grand Street Campus in South Williamsburg, the second incarnation was in Greenpoint, and focused heavily on Greenpoint/Williamsburg institutions. However, this year Town Square Founder and Executive Director Susan Anderson decided to throw the spotlight on a different neighborhood—Bushwick—and invited PS 147 and the Brooklyn Latin School, which share a campus on Bushwick Avenue, to host.
“At first, we wanted to control the event, to keep in very local to Greenpoint/Williamsburg,” Anderson said. “But we had a lot of schools from all over Brooklyn—and even Queens—who wanted to participate, and we had to turn them away. Now, after we have done two schoolfests, we felt ready to expand, and decided to welcome any school that wants to participate.”
Schoolfest bills itself as the “ultimate open house,” a one-stop shop for parents, students and educators to learn about the wealth and diversity of educational resources available across the borough of Brooklyn. In addition, Schoolfest boasts a series of workshops, ranging from how to recognize learning disabilities in a child to the role of standardized testing in applying for college. Anderson explained that the goal of this year’s Schoolfest, in addition to expanding the roster of participating institutions, was to proactively reach out to one neighborhood adjacent to Greenpoint/Williamsburg, and Bushwick perfectly fit the bill—and Julia DiSalvo Drake, Principal of PS 147, couldn’t be happier to be involved.
“Many people have preconceived notions about schools in Bushwick, but we’re a wonderful school with so much to offer,” Drake said. PS 147 has forged partnerships with several community organizations to enhance their programs, and recently received a Capital B grant from Chez Bushwick for their Bushwick Beautification Project. PS 147 also recently received an Out 2 Play grant, and will soon enjoy a new playground as a result. “When people get to know us, they really love us—we have 100 per cent parent satisfaction!”
While playing host to this year’s Schoolfest provided PS 147, and a host of other local Bushwick schools, with the opportunity to showcase their programs, conversely, Anderson also hoped to be able to bring a wealth of resources to Bushwick as well.
“We’re so excited to be here in Bushwick,” Anderson said. “This might be the first time schools like Yale and Columbia, and the CUNY schools, are coming to Bushwick. This event is all about access, and that’s what Town Square is about, too.”
In addition to Town Square, Councilmembers Diana Reyna and David Yassky were instrumental in planning and executing this year’s Schoolfest.