Bringing learning to life
Saturday, March 28, 2009
BY MICHELE ANGERMILLER
Special to the Times
TRENTON -- When Lisa Kasabach takes a drive through Trenton, she
sees more than buildings and landmarks. She sees teaching
has a rich history and an abundance of cultural resources that
can be used to bring out the best in children, the community and
our world," said the Trenton resident.
"There is a great deal of value right here in the city, and
wonderful assets and resources for learning and teaching."
Kasabach and a group of like-minded people are creating the
River City Community School that will use Trenton as a
classroom. The school is currently enrolling students for the
fall, and plans to teach children in grades K-5 in a different
way. It's mission is captured in the school motto: "Bringing
Learning to Life."
The idea for the school grew out of the idea that the community
needed a new elementary school option for parents living and
working in Trenton. A group of parents, educators and community
activists who saw Trenton's rich and varied assets as an
underutilized resource for educating children began working on
the concept for the school as an outgrowth of CitySmiles, an
established organization dedicated to promoting positive urban
family, community and environmental living in Trenton.
"This is a way to enhance learning in the classroom," said
Kasabach, a former Trenton Board of Education member and
director of Isles Environmental Education and Community
Kasabach says that the independent school will use the Turning
Point Methodist Church at 15 S. Broad St., Trenton, as a home
base for the 30 to 35 students they hope to enroll. The school,
which will charge tuition of $10,000 per pupil with a 10 percent
discount for siblings and offer support scholarships, will visit
landmarks like The Old Barracks Museum in Downtown Trenton as
part of its daily lesson plan.
"We are starting small, because we want to be successful and set
a good foundation," she said, adding that she is hoping to keep
the classrooms level at 10-15 students per class. "The goal is
to expand the program through 8th grade."
Besides the Old Barracks Museum, Kasabach is outlining plans to
use the New Jersey State Museum and the banks of the river as a
backdrop for learning.
Teachers can incorporate lessons of science, math, and art all
in the setting of the river, she said.
"Maybe a student that excels in math can figure our how deep the
river is or how fast it flows. We can set up easels by the river
banks and encourage students that are strong in art to create a
painting of the river," she said, adding that this
interdisciplinary approach to school is generally utilized in
"In areas where this works, like Philadelphia and New York,
there are rich resources at your fingertips," she explained.
"It's pretty exciting to use city resources, and what we want to
do is take advantage of it and enhance beyond the school day,
and spark an interest in learning beyond the school day. A huge
part of it is community partners supporting us, as it does take
a village to raise a child."
Others involved in the school's start-up include Kietha Biggers,
Melissa Brand, Peter Kasabach, Edna Margolin, and Cynthia
For more information on the school, call (609) 394.8018, or look
online at rivercityschool.org.