About Us

NYC Is My Backyard is a project born of countless conversations with a variety of parent-friends and educators about effective teaching.  As a veteran New York City teacher, I know a thing or two about kids and education. As a busy New Yorker, I know a thing or two about the challenges of trying to do it all in the city that has it all.  Despite the fact that I grew up in the suburbs, I know that city kids have the best backyard there is.  NYC Is My Backyard programs are created to inspire children to use that backyard to become better writers, by channeling their intrinsic curiosity about the world around them into written material.

Betsy Chairman

I spent a great deal of my childhood in Pennsylvania, with my grandfather, who made every day into an educational adventure. On weekends, we’d go into Philadelphia and stroll through the outdoor Italian market, speaking to shopkeepers and learning about different types of food. We’d visit the Navy Yard and talk our way onto old ships. We’d stroll the streets and he would tell my brothers and me about the different buildings and the experiences he’d had in those same places, in his youth, while letting us climb and run and play. We learned by interacting; he was the best teacher I ever had.

When I started working with kids, many moons ago, I wanted to find a way to reach them the way my grandfather had reached me. I encourage my students to look and listen and question and do, and I’m constantly amazed at how much they take in and also teach me. NYC Is My Backyard is a tribute to my grandfather; I want to share with others the gift of loving to learn, that he gave me.

I graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, spent a little more than a year after college in Italy and Israel, went to graduate school for a Master’s degree in Education at the University of Pennsylvania and then lived for two years in Washington DC, before finally settling down in the greatest city of all…THE BIG APPLE. I live in the West Village and split my teaching time between P.S. 89 and P.S. 41. When I’m not working, I’m out walking, running and biking the streets of New York. I can’t wait to share some of what I know with your little ones!