Brooklyn Charter School

545 WILLOUGHBY AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11206 Map
Phone: (718) 302-2085
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery/District 14 priority
Principal: Omigbade Escayg
Neighborhood: Williamsburg/ Greenpoint
District: 14
Grade range: K-5
Unzoned
Charter School

What's special:

Music, dance and wide-ranging science explorations

The downside:

Reading scores could be better

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

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)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with PS 23

Number of Students 258

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Students at this school

Asian

  
2%

Black

  
85%

Hispanic

  
13%

White

  
0%

Free Lunch

  
79%

Special ed

  
20%

English Language Learners

  
4%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

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?

58% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

77% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

63% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

33% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

81% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

70% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

67% 91% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

39% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

18% 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

100% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

70% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

73% 72% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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 5% 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:

NA 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

33% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

17% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

98% 98% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

85% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

88% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

96% 90% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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