Welcome to The Perch, the first eNewsletter of the Brilla Charter Schools network in the South Bronx! Why the name, The Perch? Because we hope to provide a bird’s eye view of the major goings on at our schools, and because our mascot is the cardinal. In case you were wondering, Brilla is the Spanish word for “shine” and pronounced like tortilla (a popular food staple of our staff!).
The goal of The Perch is to inform friends and family about Brilla’s growing network of school communities. We plan to publish stories about our students, parents, staff and neighbors four times a year. This inaugural edition includes a story about our Blended Learning model, by Ms. Jenee Toval, an interview with our Teacher of the Month, Ms. Kiara Chavez, a story about our Cardinal of the Year, Juan Carlos, an update about our growth plans, and a link to a published story about Brilla’s Character development. Each edition of The Perch will start with a joint letter from Luanne Zurlo, Executive Director of Seton Education Partners, which manages the Brilla network, and Kelsey LaVigne, the Superintendent of the Brilla schools.
Brilla opened its doors to its first 210 students in the Fall of 2013. Today, our network is comprised of two Brilla elementary schools and one middle school serving nearly 800 students. Brilla views parents as the most important educators of their children. The family is at the center of our holistic approach, which emphasizes character and culture in addition to academics.
High academic expectations and performance are critically important. Indeed, our students score well above their neighborhood peers in state assessment exams. But we also think developing virtue in our young scholars – particularly wisdom, courage, justice and self-control – is essential to our work as educators. Our classical curriculum, emphasizing Truth, Goodness and Beauty, supports our character work. We also embrace the best of what educational technology can offer, incorporating targeted blended learning into each school day.
A joyful and loving learning environment is another cornerstone of our Brilla schools. Nothing makes us happier than a Brilla scholar running up to hug one of our principals – Ms. Apfel, Mrs. Castillo and Mr. Larsen – with a huge grin on their face thrilled to be starting a new school day! (Admittedly, our middle schoolers are less effusive.) A comment by one of our parents perhaps says it best: “Aqui, hay la caridad!” (Here, there is loving care).
It seems that our model has tapped into a real need, as the demand for seats at Brilla schools exceeds our capacity. Accordingly, we plan to open two new Brilla elementary schools in the Bronx in 2020 and our second middle school in 2022. We’ll keep you apprised as our plans unfold.
We encourage you to forward The Perch on to others who might be interested in our work. We also ask for feedback. Do let us know what you’d like to see more or less of.
We are grateful for your support.
Luanne D. Zurlo Kelsey LaVigne
Executive Director Superintendent
Seton Education Partners Brilla Public Charter Schools