Congratulations to the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies—Winner of the 2011 Imagination Award

Drama Teacher Kori Rushton, Principal Alyce Barr, and Music Teacher Christine Piccirillo from the Brooklyn School of Collaborative Studies. Photo: Patrick McMullan Company ©2011

As many know, Lincoln Center Institute created the annual Imagination Award to encourage and acknowledge New York City public schools that successfully incorporate and foster imaginative thinking in their teaching and learning practices. It is our pleasure to announce the 2011 winner: Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.

The school is a 6th through 12th grade school, winning for its middle school efforts. Before we even read its application, we gave thumbs up to the words “Collaborative Studies” in the school’s name. BSC promotes rigorous study and an engaging curriculum, and pedagogy based on inquiry — meaning that questioning is encouraged. Also, it has created a school culture that demands and teaches compassion and good citizenship—all pedagogical qualities that LCI support.

Congratulations to the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, and to all the staff, headed by Principal Alyce Barr, who give the school its direction and guide its students toward desirable goals with imaginative learning.

Congratulations to NYC’s PS 219—Winner of the 2010 Imagination Award

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We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2010 LCI Imagination Award, PS 219, the Kennedy-King Elementary School in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The celebration, and the giving of the $5000 award, took place at the school on the morning of June 23rd as part of the 5th-grade graduation ceremony. In his speech, Lincoln Center Institute’s Executive Director, Scott Noppe-Brandon, praised the school for using principles of teaching that align with LCI’s Capacities for Imaginative Learning, which emphasize students’ ability to—among other qualities—connect study to their lives, whether that study is about math or the issue of homelessness or yesterday’s historic figures. He described how moved the Award board was by PS 219’s application materials, which likened a classroom to a jigsaw puzzle: each child a unique piece with a different size, shape, and pattern, yet all necessary to make the whole picture. “The larger jigsaw puzzle is the world,” Noppe-Brandon said, “where all come together to create the complete picture, and you are all citizens of this country, of the traditions that your parents came from, and of the world.”

You can find an in-depth article about the award and PS 219 in Brooklyn’s Canarsie Courier, and check out the photo album on Facebook. Curious about the Imagination Award? Check out the selection criteria.

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Imagination Takes a Hike

Image by Craig Cloutier**

To say that I am an avid walker is an understatement. It is perhaps one of the things I love the most about living in New York City. For me walking is about much more than exercise or fresh air—it’s about exploration, experience, and reflection. But it wasn’t until I came across Alexei Sayle’s* article from this past Sunday’s Observer of London that I became cognizant of how wonderfully this activity also fuels my imagination.

It was really a single line from Sayle’s article that has started me thinking about this: “The act of walking itself can be, if you tread with your eyes and brain open, fantastic for the imagination,” he writes. This seems deceptively obvious, perhaps, and it is certainly something I readily recognize as I reflect, now, on my own experience. Stepping out for a lunchtime turn around the block during a busy work day isn’t just about releasing tension, it’s about re-starting my brain, revving up those gears, generating sparks. Yet I had not previously conceived of walking as a part of my own imagination practice.

Not only is New York an eminently walkable city, but I am certainly not alone in my passion for exploring this fascinating place on foot. The population encountered striding through Central Park, Riverside Park, or along the sidewalks of the Upper West Side (or in myriad other corners of the five boroughs, I presume), is gratifyingly diverse and often unexpectedly fascinating. What and who you encounter during a particular foray makes the experience valuable, but I wonder whether simply being “outside” or “abroad” in both a conceptual and physical sense doesn’t also exercise the imagination in a certain way?

Thinking about stepping out to reignite? Caleb Smith documented his two-year project to walk every street in Manhattan. Shore Walkers is a year-round walking club based in NYC and lower New York State, perhaps best known for The Great Saunter, an annual 32-mile hike around the perimeter of Manhattan. (A bit crazy on the face of it, I know, but I have actually completed this walk more than once!) I don’t mean to seem completely NYC-centric, though! Check out www.startwalkingnow.org from the American Heart Association. And consider browsing the Internet for information about walking your own community.

*Sayle is not terribly well-known in the U.S. Readers might most likely remember this British author, actor, and comedian for his recurring role as the landlord Jerzy Balowski on the 1980s import, The Young Ones.

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**There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.