Brooklyn Charter School
BROOKLYN NY 11206 Map
Brooklyn Charter School
Tiny Brooklyn Charter School honors Kenyan traditions, is powered by dance and the percussive beat of samba music, and also has a strong science focus. Children gather for a morning circle called "Harambee" meaning "all pull together" in Swahili. Two to three times a week, children dance, sing and play instruments in well-equipped studios. Each spring, the school also ropes off the block it sits on for a festival featuring song, food and dance wrapped up inside a science topic kids have studied for months. "We bring our learning out into the street," said founding principal Omigbade Escayg (pronounced "Ess-Sky").
"Mr. Omi," as the kids call him, is a graduate of the inventive Bank Street College of Education. Trinidadian by birth, he is both a musician and a qualified marine research biologist. He leads the school's Batucada percussion ensemble and guides its in-depth approach to science.
Science instruction themes span several months; they focus on a single topic. During the "Mariposa Festival" one year (mariposa means "butterfly" in Spanish), for example, each child received a butterfly larva and explored butterflies through the lenses of literature, math and science. They named the body parts of butterflies, and studied metamorphosis, migration and butterflies in mythology. It's small wonder that even though the school doesn't employ a science teacher, student science scores are great.
Reading scores, however, are disappointing, while math scores are average. In response, math classes are over an hour long, and instruction in writing also receives extra attention.
The music room is equipped with keyboards and drums. The dance studio has mirrors and a tap dance floor that's a gift from actor Tony Danza. Children sample ballet, modern, Afro-Caribbean and Latin dance styles. Third through 5th graders work with Harlem Samba, a Brazilian percussion ensemble at Frederick Douglass Academy, to prepare for each spring festival.
Opened in 2000, Brooklyn Charter moved to the third floor of PS 23 in 2004; it was the first charter in the city to share a building with a district school. The school is located across the street from the public housing in Marcy Houses and is near several homeless shelters; it also borders a gentrifying neighborhood area. While there are three kindergarten classes, in the upper grades class size is as small as 14 students, reflecting family decisions to place older children in other schools. "It's a really competitive world in terms of charters," the principal said. "We've had to find ways to stay alive."
A new dean is helping teachers maintain better discipline and order, a need reflected on school satisfaction surveys. One mid-morning, as some kids began to yawn, we saw a teacher ask his students to stand up for an impromptu stretch. "We have a lot of youngsters here who need counseling," said Escayg.
Special education: Team-taught classes are available in some grades for children with special needs.
Admissions: A lottery is held in April. Priority is given to residents of District 14, where the school is located. The waiting list typically tops 300 names (Lydie Raschka, October 2014)
At a glance
Number of Students 237
Average Daily Attendance 92%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?37% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?71% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?89% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?86% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?26% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
Does the school encourage family involvement?
How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the last school year?79% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?97% 94% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
How well does this school serve students with disabilities?
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:0% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:15% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:8% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?
How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?
How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?