That is why Susan Anderson, founder of the community-based nonprofit group Town Square, started Schoolfest with then-council members David Yassky and Diana Reyna in 2008.
“I remember when I was just getting my kids enrolled in elementary school, these people were just rolling these numbers off the tips of their tongues,” Anderson said, describing the city school naming system. “For someone who doesn’t know the system, you just feel like a deer caught in the headlights.”
The seventh annual event is scheduled for January 25 from noon to 4 p.m. at John Ericsson Middle School 126, located at 424 Leonard St. in North Brooklyn.
Nearly 70 schools from across the borough, as well as organizations like the Greenpoint YMCA, ABC Child Center, and the NY Kids Club, will present a variety of workshops to help parents become better accustomed to the system.
“We at Town Square have created a one-stop information center for all the schools in the neighborhood, public, charter or private schools, as well as everyone from early childhood all the way up to high school and enrichment providers to give parents and educators a look at whose doing what in our community,” Anderson explained.
As this is also the first year of Kindergarten Connect, an online service for parents to enroll their kids in pre-kindergarten on the Web, Anderson said there will also be a registration booth to help ease any problems parents might have had submitting applications.
“They can do the registration right there with many parent coordinators,” she said. “They will be able to hold the hand of someone to help them through the process.”
Representatives from West Point and Cornell University will also be there to help parents get a better grasp on applying for higher education.
“We want to try and make it so that the thought of colleges and the names of these universities become a part of the everyday lexicon for kids and their parents,” Anderson added.
Schoolfest 2014 is the second year that District 14 Superintendent Alicja Winnicki and her team will be on hand to present their district-wide initiative at strengthening community bonds.
“This is for the parents and for the community to come together and to learn about each other,” Winnicki said. “I think it’s very convenient that the schools attending are showcasing their best practices and what they have for the parents.”
Other speakers include Allstate Financial, with tips on budgeting for schools and college, and Joyce Szuflita from New York School Help will discuss middle and high school applications.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol has long been a supporter of the Town Square initiative, and said he hopes that parents new to Brooklyn schools will have an easier time enrolling their kids after attending.
“With parents confronted with so many decisions as to where their children should attend school, Schoolfest provides a great opportunity for parents to make informed choices,” Lentol said. “Luckily, the schools in North Brooklyn are great, which will certainly make their decision that much easier.”