Schoolfest 2014 was the largest ever for the annual networking and informational event, as nearly 90 public, private and charter schools joined with early childhood centers at M.S. 126 in Greenpoint to acclimate parents to the education system.
Hosted by Brooklyn nonprofit Town Square, Schoolfest has become a community staple since its launch seven years ago with the help of then-council members David Yassky and Diana Reyna.
“I don’t think there is a single school fair out there that brings together public schools, charter schools and private schools,” said Susan Anderson, executive director of Town Square. “There are many policies and politics that can come into play, and it’s a very unique animal to walk that line and bring all of those different types of schools together.”
Alicja Winnicki, District 14 Superintendent, was there to meet with parents, principals and staff members, as well as numerous community organizations.
“There are many opportunities for the schools right here in this room,” Winnicki said. “This is a great networking event and I think the schools are benefiting from it, parents are getting to know the schools better, and a this is a way to learn about he uniqueness of each school.”
M.S. 126 Principal Marcos Bausch represented his own school as host of Schoolfest.
“The idea is that we keep the parents well informed of all the options in the community,” he said. “There are so many great community-based organizations out there with schools and different offerings that sometimes they’re not aware.”
In addition to the schools, numerous Brooklyn-based child-focused programs were also there to meet with parents and schools as well.
Artist and educator Kristin Melkin is the founder of the neighborhood art space Eckford Street Studio, located at 70 Eckford St. in Greenpoint.
“We would love to partner with schools, especially since P.S. 34 is just down the street,” Melkin said.
Joann Lomonte and The Therapy Corner of Brooklyn were there to showcase their services for children and young adults, specializing in children with speech impairments heading into the new school year.
“It’s good for us to get our name out in the community and to talk to the schools and give out our information so that they know we’re there,” Lamonte said. “Parents often go to schools first looking for information and services.”
In her new position as deputy borough president, Reyna met with children and parents at the event and noted the years of hard work in keeping Schoolfest alive.
“This is probably the only district that hosts such a forum,” Reyna said. “Schoolfest was created from an idea of nonprofit and government partnering together.”