Unification News for March 1997

Bright Hope For Bridgeport Hope School

by Annie Iparraguirre

Visitors are welcomed to Bridgeport by a sign declaring that this seaport city has a "Proud Past and a Bright Future." In that bright future shines Bridgeport Hope School.

Bridgeport Hope School is a private, non-sectarian, values-driven school which was founded in Sept. 1996 by a group of Unification parents and educators who share a vision that puts moral education in the center of a curriculum of excellence. The founding families of this new school are committed to providing character education, academic excellence and opportunities for students to utilize their knowledge in service to others. The program design reflects that commitment.

The academic environment is warmed by universal spiritual principles, and we actively invite God's blessing in our daily work. In order to provide good character education for our students, each day begins with a morning service at an assembly of the entire school. Morning service includes music and a short story or sermon centered on our character theme of the month. Some themes to date have been "Respect"; "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness"; "Generosity"; "Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies: Making Good Choices"; and "Integrity". The theme each month is integrated throughout the curriculum and reinforced in the relationships between teachers and students and of students with each other. The morning lesson is followed by a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and a patriotic song.

We seek to model the best of education in action. To fulfill that goal, all of our students, from the youngest to the oldest, participate in at least one community service project each month. Service projects already accomplished are: baking cookies for our neighbors, cleaning the ocean beach, collecting money for UNICEF to help children around the world, and buying and wrapping Christmas presents for a local women's and children's shelter. We have adopted a whole building of grandparents at a local nursing home. At the nursing home, we presented a play about the first Thanksgiving, joined in a Christmas songfest, and on Valentine's Day we hand-made and hand- delivered 145 valentines, one for each of our friends at the nursing home. The students really put their hearts into making the valentines and worked on them for a whole week. As our students went about cheerfully and energetically making their deliveries, the staff and residents were moved to tears.

Bridgeport Hope School is committed to academic excellence. Small classes provide opportunities for individual attention in academics. Our school is located in the historic Seaside Institute Building and is three blocks from the Long Island Sound. We have adopted a beach there which we visit often to learn about the ocean. Ocean studies and experiences will be an integral part of the curriculum as Bridgeport Hope School develops. The academic program also features Asian Culture Education by offering instruction in Chinese calligraphy and Korean language study. Physical Education receives special attention at Bridgeport Hope School. It is an opportunity to teach teamwork, the necessity and value of practicing skills and nurturing that important connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind. Weekly classes in art, music and theater arts are also offered.

Information literacy is a priority at Bridgeport Hope School. Students begin their introduction to technology with CD-I Systems designed by the Phillips Magnavox Company. This innovative system was designed for classroom instruction, and even the students in our Pre-K program enjoy its early applications. The CD-I system features interactive instructional discs including specific topics such as Life in the

Tidepool, Photosynthesis, The Solar System and Weather. There are also discs of general interest such as Compton's Encyclopedia and Tell Me Why, in which the student may choose to explore knowledge from a wide variety of topics such as magnetism, dinosaurs, colors, customs and many others.

Students as young as Pre-K age manipulate the oversized primary- colored mouse designed for young hands. Students can choose topics they would like to learn about and are then instructed with digital video footage, written text and narration. Quizzes are provided at various points throughout discs designed for use by the older students. This feature enhances the students' ability to self-check their understanding as they progress through the information.

CD-I discs play on our large classroom 27"-screen color television. The large screen display is much more appropriate for young learners and also makes classroom presentations more powerful as the whole class can participate in a lesson as well as individuals.

The primary teaching style at Bridgeport Hope School is the classic Socratic mode of teacher/student interaction, questioning and discovering knowledge, respectful discussion and cooperative learning. Students in first grade and up begin to use educational programs on personal computers as part of their integrated individualized academic program.

As the principal and also as a teacher, creating this opportunity to educated our children in an environment which flows naturally from home to school by freely including God and the values we share has been a tremendously rewarding experience. Bridgeport Hope School is funded completely by tuition and donations of individuals and businesses. We invite you to support this exciting new venture by sending your donations to the address below. Tuition for the year is $3,000 for one child, $5,500 for two children attending from the same family, and $7,500 for three. Plans are now being made for our expanded program in the 1997-98 school year. Please call or write if you would like enrollment information.

Bridgeport Hope School 283 Lafayette St. Bridgeport, CT 06604 (203)576-6773

Our school will include grades K through 6 next year. If you are an experienced elementary school teacher and would like to work on this very exciting project, please send your resume to the address above or call Mrs. Iparraguirre at the school.

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