This is the greatest school. * For my children. I am a life long learner, I educate adults and I'm on my second career in a high tech field. Your school is never going to teach you everything, your curiosity is going to cause you to seek it out. For most parents seeking a special experience driven with goals of bringing out each child's greatness, you owe it to yourselves to check into Brightworks. Once you reach outside of the public day care system we call public education, your needs can vary. This might not be the school for your dedicated ballerina or a mathematician phenomena that is going to require NASA engineers to even understand him never mind relate to her. I'm not normal and neither are my children, they are exceptional, but we live inside some normal boundaries and I don't personally know anyone to whom I would not recommend Brightworks. Honest Engine!
My son is in the youngest band at Brightworks, and we couldn't be happier. The community is wonderful. The mixed-age classes and small size means that he plays, works and is friends with kids from 5 to 15. The kids have embraced him as part of their community and he loves belonging. What he is learning is similar to any K-1 class. How he is learning is different. At Brightworks, the kids tend to delve deep into topics they find interesting and important. The math, science, literacy, is woven in. At a given time, all the kids in the school are focused on learning around an arc topic. But, the actual the work they do is developmentally appropriate for them. For example, during the Clock arc, the youngest were putting together see through pendulum clocks, playing with the springs, gears and pendulums to see how they worked, while the oldest band was studying the physics of pendulums. My son loves seeing the various projects that are parallel to his, but more advanced. My son loves Brightworks so much that he does not wants to leave at the end of the day. He also wields a mean drill. He's grown so much in his first 2 months, I can t wait so see what s next.
We made the decision to enroll our son at Brightworks because we wanted him in a learning community that would help him grow into an active, engaged, and curious participant in the world, and because we view education as a support to those goals rather than education being the end goal itself. We want our son to attend college, but more importantly, we want him to understand why he needs to go to college. We want him to pick a major because he has curiosity and passion about that subject, and has actual experiences with experts working in that field before he arrives at college. We want him to know who he is, what he wants, what he is good at, what he is not good at, and not be afraid of who he really is. We want him to engage with people of all ages as equals, and to develop deep empathy for people different than him. We want him to spend his days around people who know him and love him for who he is, who model curiosity and learning in their own lives, and who develop deep meaningful relationships with students as real people and not an audience. Those are our primary goals as parents, and Brightworks is an amazing place to watch our son's path towards achieving them.
My daughter has been at Brightworks form the very beginning, and it has been wonderful to watch her and the school evolve. At its heart, Brightworks promotes learning in its truest form, encouraging experimentation, tinkering, iteration, and even failure as a means to gaining knowledge. True to its mission, the school itself has experienced the highs and lows of learning as it has been established, modeling for students the way to augment, correct, reconfigure, dismiss, and ultimately triumph from myriad lessons. The experience of being a Brightworks family has made all of us more alert to and aware of possibilities in the world of learning. My daughter is a conscious and active participant in her education and is being taught how to be a passionate, lifelong learner. Brightworks doesn't look like other schools ("tried and true" and "well-worn" don't fit here and for good reason), but the innovation and curiosity which shape it infuse every aspect. Here she has learned to read, handle power tools, ask interesting questions of just about anyone, collaborate, do math, hypothesize, revise, seek challenge, make her voice heard and, most importantly...learn.
My 9-year-old daughter has been at Brightworks since opening day. While there have been bumps as with any startup, it's been a an incredibly powerful experience for her. She's met and overcome more difficult challenges in her self-directed projects than she would at a middle school level in a typical program, and completed projects from performances to builds to research papers. I love the public speaking requirement as well, especially for a girl who might be able to get away with excelling quietly in a corner. The administration is sloppy at times (they would say so themselves) but they're working on it and what happens in the school's best moments is unavailable anywhere else. Brightworks is experimental not only in it's curriculum but in being set up as an experiment - it's evolving, and because of the topic-arc structure, every 3 months there's an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve. Like anything in its beginnings, it's not for everyone, but I can't recommend it highly enough if you want your child seriously challenged, taught to collaborate, and spending their days solving interesting problems...and of course if you enjoy experiments yourself.
Don't believe the hype. There is an enormous difference between running day camps, and running an educational institution. Note what the reviewer who gave the school five stars said, "As hyper-involved parents we make sure the basics are covered." I expect that any school will provide my children with the "basics" of education. The school believes that reading will happen just by being exposed to books. If you are seriously considering Brightworks, think long and hard about how interested you are in paying $21,000 a year to have your child be a guinea pig for a curriculum and structure based on pipe dreams, not on "well-worn and innovative progressive education methods." Examine the credentials for the administration and the Board of Directors. There is one educator on the board. Then there are practical matters. Don't hold your breath waiting for someone to pick up the phone or answer an email. The sole upside to the school is that there are some real gems in the community of families. But that isn't a reason to stay. We will not be back for the 2013/2014 school year.
My 10-year old has blossomed at Brightworks (curiosity, love of learning, autonomy). It's a brand new school incorporating both well-worn and innovative progressive education methods. As a new school all families are partners in helping it evolve, and it does not look like the school most of us grew up in. But just because the students aren't lined up in desks and watching the teacher give lessons all day, doesn't mean there isn't profound learning going on. Math, science, writing, reading, history are all incorporated through hands-on projects that make the subjects come to life. A 3 stage "arc" incorporates a) the exploration of a subject, including field trips, curated experiences and engagement with subject matter experts, b) child-led project formation and execution, and c) the presentation of projects to the community. Projects for my son included building a dwelling, inventing a virtual currency and marketplace, engineering a trebuchet, filming a stop-motion movie, producing a theatrical play, assembling a Makerbot from scratch. As hyper-involved parents we make sure the basics are covered. What Brightworks provides are invaluable real-world, maker-oriented experiences.
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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