After searching for the perfect neighborhood property, Branches Community School found its home in a 1920s craftsman bungalow in the heart of Durham. Located at 903 Broad Street, Branches is nestled between the neighborhoods of Old West Durham, Walltown, Trinity Heights, and Duke’s East Campus. Ample sidewalks that lead to parks, unique businesses, and quiet neighborhoods are right outside our door, allowing students to be immersed in neighborhood activities.
Branches Community School opened its doors in September 2018. Over the last few years, our dedicated teachers, families and students have built Branches into a progressive early childhood community. Our school is dedicated to children’s rights and social activism, working with like-minded organizations to reimagine an equitable future for our youngest citizens.
To support children’s natural curiosities, teachers at Branches Community School construct their curriculum alongside children. While, one month, children might be studying insects on the playground, another time of year may lead to explorations of water, robotics, or outer space. During each period of investigation, teachers empower children to build skills and knowledge through exploring new materials, asking and answering questions, and problem-solving with others.
Teachers support the unique learning style of each child, taking note of what motivates each learner. While one child may live and breathe vehicles, another may be fascinated with drama, art, or always being on the go! Weaving together both individual explorations and class-wide projects, the teachers at Branches are experts in creating differentiated learning.
All staff at Branches hold credentials in early childhood, most with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Teachers are trained in CPR, first aid, and health & safety and also participate in ongoing professional development opportunities.
BETH & GIA BRANCIFORTE
“Branches is an extension of the values we hold in our family – community, diversity, compassion, and wonder.”
Beth Branciforte spent her life in early childhood settings, and after gaining her degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison, she quickly headed south for warmer weather and a chance to teach in Reggio-inspired classrooms. Over the past 18 years, Beth has served as a teacher, director, mentor, and parent educator in the triangle. After traveling to Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2017, Beth was inspired to create a school that embraces the potential of a community’s young children. Beth and her wife, Gia, found the perfect neighborhood location and named the school Branches – a place to grow and connect.
Gia Branciforte grew up in New York City and came to North Carolina to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. She fell in love with the Old North State and made a home in Durham, eventually returning to her alma mater to build websites for university units. Gia provides IT support for Branches. When she’s not fixing things at the school, she loves feeding people, playing outside, and dancing to Motown music.