There a lot of private schools out there. Some are labeled as being preparatory schools, where a huge emphasis is placed on preparing the students for admission to a top-notch college. However, in September 2012, a new school might be opening in Chelsea, NY, that would put all of these other private schools to shame. The only problem is that the school does not yet exist.
Chris Whittle, an educational entrepreneur, is planning to build a school called Avenues: The World School, which will be a for-profit private school for students ages nursery through ninth grade. The school is already in great demand, even though it is still being constructed, because many parents in this area are desperate to enroll their children in a private school, and there just are not enough seats available to fulfill the demand in the older private schools.
The curriculum at Avenues will allow students to learn bilingually in English and either Spanish or Mandarin. The bilingual classes will take place from nursery school until fourth grade. The need for bilingual adults in the future will be incredibly high, so by instilling these skills in students now, Avenues would be creating future employees who would be in higher demand in the international workplace in the future. Avenues will also be part of a network of international schools that have the same curriculum. So, if a student wanted to spend a semester in London or Shanghai or any other exotic location, his or her education would not have to suffer because he or she could study the same curriculum and stay on track while living in a foreign country.
“Schools need to do a better job preparing children for international lives,” Whittle said.
So far, more than 1,200 families have applied for early admission for their children to the school. The school’s dean, Gardner P. Dunnan, expects many more to apply – up to 5,000 – but there will only be 1,320 spots available for all age groups. Whittle is obviously pleased with this early acceptance for his school.
“You have to see the enthusiasm [to enroll in Avenues],” Whittle said.
According to Whittle and his colleagues, the world has changed but private school education has not. Avenues will be a way for private school education to keep up with the ever-changing world.
However, there is still a big challenge in the way for Avenues: actually creating the school and getting it ready for students. As of right now, only eight of the 180 teachers that would be required to teach at Avenues have been hired and the school itself is still under construction. Luckily, with more than a year left to get everything finalized, I am still crossing my fingers that Avenues will be a big success and help make many students more prepared for an international life.