It sounds mad, but the perpetual noise that is Manhattan, deafening at sidewalk level or a faint cry heard deep within the city’s iconic buildings, provokes a warm feeling of familiarity in me.
As I wake up to the sound of the trash collection beneath my sixth floor bedsit, I begin to plan my journey through the city streets, a combination of twists and turns through this gargantuan movie set.
I head south from my Fifth Avenue residence (I believe that I am required to throw in this impressive address) toward Washington Square Park, with, of course, my daily nod to the Empire State Building.
My destination is Manhattan’s gentrified East Village: home to my school, Nord Anglia International School; one of 42 schools located across three continents.
I am a class 3 teacher and project lead, and for us classes start at 8:30am. Today, the children are eager to return to the Art Bar, located in the heart of the school’s newly refurbished library. In return for some premium Manhattan space, our artists in residence occupy the entire fifth floor of school and work with our children in order to enrich our curriculum with local expertise from this artistically rich part of the world.
The children work with our resident animator, producing a film about an imaginary friend. Some children work on capturing photos at 17 frames a second, then manipulate their self-designed wire-based clay models through an animated storyline. Others are busy recording voiceovers, adding and creating dialogue to bring the models to life.
The imaginary-friend project extends schoolwide; children work through the theme alongside graffiti artists; computer game designers – even a Bollywood dancing troupe. All are virtuosos in their own craft and at the children’s disposal, labouring seven days a week in the floor above and shaping a community feel to our bustling building.
Break time is a popular affair for our close-knit teaching faculty of Brits who crave the outdoors in this metropolis. We head up to the roof, where the sounds of the city are more muffled. However, if one could briefly forget where in the world you were, a dose of playground duty would bring it all back.
I recently returned from a trip with our Year 2 students to the Cape Henlopen State Park. This part of Delaware is a stark contrast for our Manhattanite children – building fires; eating S’mores; handling crabs and toads; making beds and concocting dinner – a true symbol of independence and a sign they are ready to graduate into key stage 2.
As the day draws to a close, the school becomes quieter. It’s time to head home, north along 2nd Avenue, sirens on the move and the honking of taxicabs echoing across the street. Once home, I hear someone tinkling through the piles of trash six floors below as I settle into the calm of my apartment and reflect on an inspiring day of teaching.
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