Brewster, NY–Longview School has been a Village of Brewster business since 2010, when the school relocated from Cortlandt Manor, where it was founded in 2001. For nearly 20 years this unique private school has been renting space, but this summer, it purchased its own building. Mark Jacobs, Longview co-founder and director, said: “The school has had some fabulous landlords, especially the First United Methodist Church down the street in the center of town. Now we are thrilled to be moving into our own permanent location where we are able to consciously redesign the building to fit with the needs of our students, and the health and safety requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The new building, 571 North Main Street, is located across the street from Kobacker’s Market, just a mile from Longview’s previous location. Mr. Jacobs said: “We were extremely happy to find a building still in the Village of Brewster. We have been members of this community for almost a decade, participating each year in the Brewster Fall Festival (previously Founders Day) with our dunk tank and fun activities, supporting local businesses in the community, and being a valued member of the Brewster Chamber of Commerce.”
Longview is a unique private school: it is a K-12 program that, because of its small size–30 to 40 total students–is able to provide an education that differs for each and every student. “Because of their large size, most schools are limited in the educational approaches they are able to utilize. With classes that generally range from 3 to 7 students, at Longview we are able to tie the content to student interests, and the research shows that when students are highly engaged, they learn more,” said Mr. Jacobs.
Small class sizes also enable teachers to implement some of the most effective, modern approaches to education, particularly Project-Based Instruction and Inquiry Learning. By teaching through the use of projects, much of the curriculum is able to be interdisciplinary, mixing content from Language Arts and History with Math, Science, and Art. As a learn-by-doing approach, this engages students not only with strengths in academics, but also students who learn better kinetically (through action) and visually (through seeing).
Mixing projects with Inquiry Learning helps engage the highest brain functions. Mr. Jacobs said, “So many parents remember endless hours of sitting in lecture-style classes, tuning in to and out of lessons depending upon the day, the heat and their interest. Much of the Longview curriculum is taught through inquiry questions, so that rather than passively receiving instruction and applying it on worksheets, students are able to generate knowledge and test out their approaches to see how effective they are.” In this way, students become amateur practitioners of each discipline, so that they learn to be scientists, historians, artists, and mathematicians, as well to find a place for reading and writing in their daily lives.
Longview is dedicated to Socio-Emotional Learning in addition to stringent academic instruction. Mr. Jacobs stated: “Too many schools fall off the tightrope they try to walk, balancing between academics and socio-emotional learning. Too many public schools and prep schools focus on academics and stumble when it comes to teaching life-skills, and too many alternative schools teach life-skills but compromise on providing enough academic instruction. Longview maintains the balance between the two,” asserted Mr. Jacobs.
Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of the school is its democratic structure. The school doesn’t have a particular political bent–Democrat vs. Republican–but it does empower its students through its student-run legislature and judiciary, so that even at a young age, students are solving community problems that arise. “The best way to teach responsibility is to allow kids to have real responsibilities. The range of creative and effective solutions our students have generated over the years is astounding. Plus the level of debate when students know that the winning prevailing side will implement their solution is inspiring,” said Mr. Jacobs. Over the years, the students have tackled issues such as bullying, cleaning the school, and off-campus procedures, to name just a few.
Longview will be bringing their unique approach to education to their new building, which will provide even more opportunities for growth. “The new building has almost 10,000 square feet (a 4,000 square foot increase from their old space), including a gym/theatre and outdoor space both for play and our gardening program. Our already recognized art program will be able to expand into our modern Maker Space, and our science lab will become even more hands-on.”
Longview School contracted to buy the building on April 8, 2020. After a series of Brewster Village Board and Planning Board meetings in which Longview received all of the approvals to move ahead with the project, the school officially took ownership of the building on June 26, 2020. The renovation work is well underway, and the school expects to be ready to re-open its doors to students this September, if NY State allows schools to open.
Longview School is a non-profit private school located in the Village of Brewster, New York. For more information about their program, the school website is www.longviewschool.org.