A new school grows in Williamsburg. Uncommon Schools has opened a new elementary school on Montrose Ave. in Brooklyn to serve students from the Williamsburg neighborhood and the greater Brooklyn community.
The award-winning, high-performing public charter network opened the K-4 school this fall in a completely renovated building that had been vacant for the last six years. The three-story brick building, constructed in 1887, previously housed Most Holy Trinity School.
The building has 14 air-conditioned classrooms, including one dedicated to music. A 4,000-square-foot space with double-height ceilings will serve as the gym and cafeteria. A stage in that space will provide students with a place to perform for friends and families.
“As the proud principal of our new elementary school in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I am thrilled to embark on this educational journey with our vibrant and diverse community,” Principal Mallorie Bocachica said. “Williamsburg Elementary will be a nurturing and joyful environment where our students can grow, learn, and thrive.”
Williamsburg Elementary is Uncommon Schools’ 23rd school in Brooklyn. As a public charter school, it is free and there is no test for admission. Once students complete elementary school, they can continue to middle and high school through Uncommon Schools.
Julie Jackson, the co-CEO of Uncommon Schools, said one of the reasons for opening an elementary school in Williamsburg is to address requests from families at Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School, their nearby middle school, who have young siblings who wanted an Uncommon elementary school.
“Opening an elementary school in Williamsburg to feed our middle school has been part of our long-term plan because we believe that it is better for our students academically to begin their educational journey with us in elementary school,” Jackson said.
Uncommon Schools’ mission is to prepare students to go to, through, and beyond college. Uncommon high school students take Advanced Placement classes in high school and nearly all graduates earn admission to a four-year college. Uncommon graduates go on to graduate from college at five times the rate of a typical student from a low-income community.
Bocachica said preparing students for middle school starts with ensuring every student can read at or above grade level by the time they leave elementary school. This success happens by making learning to read fun.
“What’s really exciting about being a Kindergartner in our school is that by the end of the year, our Kindergartners are already reading independently, and that’s not by accident,” said Bocachica, who began her career in education 13 years ago as an elementary school teacher for a public school in the Bronx.
Bocachica said the school will also focus on social-emotional learning, and teachers are highly trained to meet every child exactly where they are. In fact, at Uncommon Schools, teacher training begins in early August, weeks before the students arrive, to ensure teachers are highly trained to differentiate instruction in classrooms that are warm and joyful.
Bocachica joined Uncommon Schools in 2013 and was a founder at Leadership Prep Canarsie as a teacher and taught Kindergarten, first and second grades. Bocachica also served as an instructional coach and principal fellow. Most recently, she was the principal at Leadership Prep Canarsie for four years and Excellence Girls for the last year.
Bocachica shares leadership of Williamsburg Elementary with Hannah Herbert, the schools Director of Operations. Uncommon’s two-leader model ensures that a principal like Bocachica can focus solely on student learning and teacher development, while Herbert ensures the school is running smoothly from an operations and safety standpoint. Herbert began her career in education 10 years ago as an English teacher as a Fulbright scholar and has been at Uncommon Schools for eight years.
Seats are still available at Williamsburg Elementary through 4th grade and at Williamsburg Collegiate from 5th-8th grades, and families can enroll their students at nyc.uncommonschools.org/enroll/.
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