New Marble Hill charter school looks to grow

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About two years ago, Colin Greene submitted a 900-page proposal to the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute to open Atmosphere Academy, a charter school that would focus on student enrichment and professional development.

Mr. Greene was a teacher for eight years, then worked in curriculum development, and ultimately became a school administrator in Newark while he was getting a master’s degree in educational leadership. He wanted to combine his practical experience at the school with what he was learning at Fordham.

“I was always thinking about how could I create the ideal school setting… so that’s where I came up with the idea for it,” he said of Atmosphere Academy.

In August, Atmosphere Academy opened its doors at 22 Marble Hill Ave., beating the odds to become part of the 15 percent of independent charter school applications that get approved on the first try. Mr. Greene calls it a “learning organization.”

“The main focus obviously is student learning, but also professional learning for the faculty and the staff as well. So we’re really focused on growth, continuing to evolve the organization and really focus on outcomes for students,” he explained.

To that end, the school regularly brings in teaching coaches from Fordham University and other places to help observe their instructors and give feedback. The idea is to help teachers continually grow and improve, whether they are education veterans or just beginning their careers.

Mr. Greene said after figuring out the major challenges of finding a building within their budget and hiring teachers before acquiring a building, moving past the start-up phase into the operation phase has been exciting.

“We’re offering more and more to the students, so we’ve lived up to the mission that we talked about, which is to offer enrichment. Our students go to nature education up in Westchester County, we offer language classes, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, we have a partnership with the Lincoln Center for Education… and we also have a yoga partnership,” he said.

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