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Building A City of Good Neighbors



Buffalo is known as the “City of Good Neighbors,” and that nickname speaks directly to the essence of Buffalo Commons. As a community-centered school, we strive to build a learning community that embodies what it means to be a good neighbor:


  • we welcome and celebrate our neighbors

  • we see the humanity in each person

  • we want to ensure this is true for all of Buffalo


An essential question for Commons is, “how does a school work to create a diverse and purposeful community that can positively impact the city of good neighbors?”


Learning that Matters


One way we build this vision at Buffalo Commons is through our innovative curriculum. We know that kids deserve more than a cookie-cutter approach to what and how they learn. Commons is currently creating our own standards-based Social Studies curriculum that combines history, community and civic engagement, creativity, and social and emotional development. By investing time to think critically about what our students will be doing each day, we are creating a set of learning experiences that go way beyond the school day. And we’re not doing it by ourselves. We have the incredible privilege to partner with Roots ConnectED, an educational support organization based out of New York City, whose mission is to help educators and schools build community across lines of difference. Our collaboration creates a curriculum where students learn about themselves, their community, and the world in a developmentally appropriate way. It equips them with the confidence and knowledge to be active and engaged citizens in our community. When Commons students return home to their communities throughout Buffalo, they’re bringing the dedication and learning they’ve experienced at school with them!


What does this look like for kids?


Each unit in our social studies curriculum is intentional in its construction to help students develop their creativity and critical thinking skills, while also helping them develop an understanding of themselves and their communities. We see this curriculum as instrumental to Common’s goal to ensure that education adds purpose and joy to students’ lives.


In kindergarten, our innovative curriculum includes a Family Unit where students listen to beautiful stories about a wide variety of families, interview a member of their own family about values, traditions, and history, and ultimately create a picture book about their unique family. There is also a Bread Unit, where students learn about (and taste!) all different types of bread eaten around Buffalo and the world. The bread study provides our students opportunities to learn from each other and a diverse group of community members about cultural practices that are both unique, and shared. An example from first grade, is our School Unit where students learn from members of the school community about their jobs and how people work together to improve and strengthen their communities. There’s also a unit on culture where students visit several sites in our city and then use the design process to design a new cultural site for Buffalo.


Join Our Journey


As the doors open next September to our students, we eagerly await the days our Buffalo Commons community is filled with the faces that reflect the beautiful diversity of our city’s neighborhoods. As Mr. Rogers so simply asked, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” We hope you’ll join us; apply today!


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