The mayor, a state assemblywoman and two councilmembers joined administrators, teachers, students and members of the public yesterday to cut the ribbon on Jersey City’s newest public charter school.
Just three weeks old, Kindle Education’s first class of 66 sixth graders is, apparently, settling in to their temporary digs at Team Walker Learning Center on Communipaw Avenue in Bergen-Lafayette.
Sixth grader Na’vell Morales says he likes the school more than his elementary school. “I feel a lot of people in this school is way nicer and the teachers understand you when you’re going through something.”
Founded by recent Jersey City transplants D.J. Hartigan and Katie Hahn, the school, formally known as the Kindle Public Education Charter School, is starting with one grade initially: 6th grade. It will add a grade each year until 2029, when it will serve grades 6–12.
Hahn explained the schools innovative structure and curriculum. “They’re split into six what we call spark groups. Each group has 11 students. They start the day together building relationships, setting goals and learning about social and emotional skills and our core competencies and then they travel through the day together through all of their classes…Our learning model is all about hands-on student-directed learning.”
Demographically the school is “as diverse as Jersey City” said Hahn. “That was intentional.” The students are chosen by lottery. “We accept all students, we accept students with individualized education plans, English language learners” she added.
County Commissioner Jerry Walker, who knows Hahn and Hartigan from the neighborhood, said he decided to help them out when he found out that a location for the school in Journal Square had fallen through. Having the school in his building, he said, has been “a bit of an adjustment” but he nonetheless “loves having the kids around.”
Hartigan called the first two weeks “excellent” adding “I think we’re building the kind of community we hoped for.”
For Na’vell Morales’s classmate, Gianclarlo, it’s all about the food. He said the education part was “alright.” When pressed, he upped his rating to “great.” But what he really likes is the Dominoes Pizza they bring in on Fridays.