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View Full Version : All NYC Q&A with Eileen Baker, Director of Pine Street School



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10-13-2014, 02:13 PM
From DNAinfo.com (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141013/financial-district/new-montessori-infused-fidi-school-aims-create-world-citizens) by Irene Plagianos:

At the Pine Street School, the Financial District’s newest private school, developing independent, creative and internationally minded young learners is key, said Eileen Baker, the school's director.

“Developing globally aware students is the focus of everything we do, from 2 years old through middle school,” said Baker, of the state-of-the-art International Baccalaureate school. “We’re constantly asking ourselves, how, with this education, can we turn this child into a responsible, communicative, principled, critical thinker.”

The 85,000-square-foot school, which uses nature as an inspiration for its interior design, takes up the first three floors of the Trump Building, a 70-story skyscraper at 40 Wall St. — but the school has its own dedicated entrance at 25 Pine St.

Along with bright, roomy classrooms, the school features multipurpose studios for music and movement classes, a dedicated performance space and areas for students to study and eat. There are also project rooms for art, science and culinary studies.

In September, Pine Street School, which follows a unique “Montessori-infused” International Baccalaureate program, opened with classes for 2- to 6-year-olds. The school plans to launch a sixth-grade class in 2015, and expand from there. Full-time tuition is about $29,000, with classes limited to a maximum of 15 students.

Baker, 59, has had a decades-long career at the helm of IB schools internationally, and is also certified in the independent-style of Montessori education.

Though American born, Baker has spent much of her life living and working as an educator and administrator abroad — in locations such as Turkey, Greece, Angola and England. Her experiences in various cultures have informed her understanding of education, she said, but the IB program, and Montessori-style of teaching, have become her life’s passion.

“With IB education, you watch students change, they become world citizens, problem identifiers, and problem solvers,” said Baker. “Once you’ve seen kids talk and act with so much confidence, and sophistication, you can’t really go back to any other kind of education, I think.”

Q: Your school is focused on a unique “Montessori-infused,” International Baccalaureate program. How does that educational approach work at the school?

The IB program and Montessori share a lot of features. It’s about being a respectful person, learning self-management skills. It’s a child-centered education. We don’t want teachers to do anything for kids that kids can do themselves. So, even for our youngest kids, it's tackling a small thing, like having 2-year-olds learn to put their own coats on, instead of an adult doing it for them. It’s a much longer process, but it’s the start of learning to do things on your own.

The IB program is about being an internationally aware person. Students, starting from pre-school, are also in Spanish immersion, with the goal of our students become fluent in Spanish through the years here.

Montessori tends to want the kids to chose for themselves, a student-directed learning process, while IB is a bit more about collaboration and cooperation, so the balance is quite good. We do think students need to develop their own skills, but we also think it’s very important that they learn about each other, and how to be a follower and a leader.

We want our inquiry-based learning, and project-based learning to be a means for students to become self-directed learners, and have a lifelong appreciation for questioning. It’s not about forcing someone to learn something.

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