The Greater Brunswick Charter School
1997 New Jersey Charter School Application
The Greater Brunswick Regional Charter School is defined by the broad
themes of child-directed learning in the vein of constructivism, Howard
Gardner’s “unschooled mind,” and Montessori instruction; multi-age
groupings of students; a unique degree of parental and community
involvement; and a region of residence serving the entire and contiguous
school districts of New Brunswick, Edison, Highland Park, and Milltown.
There are three pillars upon which the Charter School will be built:
- Children direct their own education.
- Students, staff, and parents/sponsors create a learning community.
- The Charter School builds civility, community, and democracy.
These pillars rest on the belief that human beings are innately
curious, that both the family and community are essential participants
in the education of children, and that a vital democracyrequires the
nurturing of rational, creative, and communicative individuals. The
educational goals of the Charter School encompass three intertwined
areas of education: intellectual development, socioemotional growth, and
community relationships and civic responsibility. This Charter School
will be a place where personal and collective excellence flourish.
Students will have both individual and group educational objectives;
thus, the educational program addresses these two facets. The curriculum
itself will be both structured and flexible, with the focus on process
and skill acquisition. The content will be directed by a combination of
student interests, group dynamics, teacher guidance, and the State Core
Curriculum Content Standards.
Each child’s interests and needs as well as processing style will be
used to set developmentally appropriate goals in a Personal Education
Plan. The general educational goals of each student’s plan are (a) to
nurture independent learning and (b) develop the child’s full potential.
The development of plans is also informed by the State Core Curriculum
Assessment is a dynamic, evolving process that changes as a child
develops and incorporates new knowledge and skills. We are concerned
with how children work and learn as well as what they
learn. Any evaluation should examine each child on the basis of his or
her own progress, not in relation to a generic “norm.” We view
assessment as a process to improve student learning, as well as a means
for charting a child’s progress. Teachers will be given latitude in
developing appropriate ways to monitor the development of students’
knowledge, understanding, and skills throughout the school year. This
repertoire of assessment tools will include student portfolios, teacher
records, inventories, student journals, exhibitions, as well as
Assessment of teaching and administrative staff, as well as the
school itself, will be linked to student assessments in a logical and
meaningful way. This is referred to as the “assessment/accountability
loop.” This loop is necessary because all the school’s stakeholders
should be accountable to one another. This loop will promote personal
and institutional excellence. High student achievement on standardized
tests will be one measure of success for our school. After three to four
years, we will do better than comparable districts on these objective
test measures. However, more complex self-assessment criteria will be
needed to judge progress as it relates to the broad goals of the Charter
School mission statement. An internal process of self-evaluation will
be confirmed, reinforced and refined by an outside assessment team. The
goal of both internal and external assessment, in turn, will be to
produce a detailed action plan for self-improvement and adjustment for
the school as a whole.
Parental involvement in the running of this Charter School is central
to its success. We envision a school with small classes that works to
create a strong sense of community, empathy, and trust among its
students. We welcome parents/sponsors as full partners in the education
of the school’s children and will rely on them to commit a significant
amount of labor in the school.
The Charter School will work to ensure an atmosphere in which
parents/sponsors feel inclinedand not burdenedto contribute their time
and effort. The Charter School will also work to ensure that incoming
parents/sponsors are supported in undertaking their responsibilities.
Adult mentors, the staff, and job coordinator will work to make tasks
clearly defined, manageable, and reasonable.
The Board of Trustees represents all parts of the school
communityparents/sponsors, staff, and studentsand serves as the directly
elected agent of the General Membership to manage the operation and
growth of the school. Members of the Board of Trustees are parents of
children enrolled in the Charter School. The Board of Trustees will be
served by an Advisory Board of community members, experts, and
specialists who will play a central role in implementing the Charter
School’s mission. At this time, members of the Advisory Board include
Dr. Penelope Lattimer, Assistant Superintendent New Brunswick Public
Schools; Alice Alston, Princeton Research Institute for Science and
Mathematics – Learning; Holly Houston, the Center for Leadership and
School Structure; Jacque Rubel, Director Emeritus, Institute for Arts
and Humanities Education; and Cary Cherniss, Rutgers Graduate School of
Applied and Professional Psychology.
The School Review Committee, comprised of professional staff and
parents, is the primary vehicle for developing specific educational
policies and developing the curriculum. This committee ensures that the
curriculum and educational program reflect the mission of the school,
the expertise of our educational professionals, and the concerns of the
General Membership. This committee also ensures educators have a strong
role in the governance of the school.
The Charter School will open in September, 1998, with 100 students
encompassing the ages 5 through 12 (or the equivalent of grades K
through 6). A balanced financial plan is submitted assuming a guaranteed
revenue stream of $714,736 from state, local, and categorical aid; an
additional $90,000 from a Federal grant for Charter School startup; and
an additional $20,000 revenue from fundraising.