Brighter Choice Community School

An Insideschools pick
280 HART STREET
BROOKLYN NY 11206 Map
Phone: (718) 574-2378
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Principal: Fabayo McIntosh-Gordon
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant
District: 16
Grade range: PK-5
Parent Coordinator: Emani Ramos Byum
Number of full-day PK seats: 54
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Zoned
Dual Language
Full Day
School-based pre-k

What's special:

Warm, welcoming school with progressive practices

The downside:

High rates of chronic absenteeism among a needy population

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Brighter Choice Community School is a welcoming school in the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Parents give the principal, Fabayo McIntosh-Gordon, high marks for bringing exciting programs to the school and creating a caring culture with high expectations for all.

The principal—Ms. Fabayo to both parents and students—studied at the Bank Street College of Education and is implementing an interdisciplinary social studies curriculum. "It's the commitment to more progressive styles of education that got me to Brighter Choice," a pre-k parent told us. "Ms. Fabayo is a smart manager who works intensely with teachers. She's incredibly personable and charismatic and very much invested in a culture of care."

The Bedford-Stuyvesant Parents Committee, an interracial group of parents working to re-invigorate neighborhood schools, picked Brighter Choice as a promising place to send their children. Their fledgling efforts have brought in a handful of middle class families to the pre-k program. Still, the school serves an overwhelmingly needy population and chronic absenteeism is high. About 30 percent of the students come from nearby homeless shelters. A social worker floats between classrooms; other supports include after school and Saturday programs. "They bring in issues that break your heart," the principal said. Every child gets a free gym shirt and polo shirt; sweaters are given as incentives to students who are trying hard or being good friends to one another, the principal said.

McIntosh-Gordon, raised in the neighborhood, hopes that her roots inspire her students to aim high. "I let my students know that I grew up around the corner on Greene Avenue," she said. "I have similar life stories to what they are experiencing now. I was a latch-key kid, but I was able to go away to college."

Even though the school doubled in size after merging in 2016 with Young Scholars, a tiny school that shared the building, the principal still greets every child by name, and they know her, running up with hugs when they see her in the hallways or classroom.

The pre-k classrooms were lively and inviting the day of our visit, with students singing as they got ready for family-style lunch. For their study on community, they took walks to the neighborhood laundry and firehouse and were preparing to dress up as community workers at their celebration. The children, too young to travel on school buses, had a "trip" brought to them; they were petting animals from a zoo in Pennsylvania.

Kindergarten and 1st grade dual languages classes presented Hispanic Heritage reports, transforming their classrooms into a museum. Children tasted food from different cultures. Instruction is in Spanish one day and English the next and there are plenty of books and resources in both languages.

Children go on frequent outings, delving deeply into social studies topics. For example, as part of a study of transportation, 2nd graders did research at the public library, saw the train show at the New York Botanical Garden and visited the Transit Museum.

Teachers use the Open Court reading program, focused on phonics. For writing, the Teachers' College method that emphasizes multiple drafts. A former math coach, McIntosh-Gordon uses the Go Math! curriculum and supplements it with hands-on manipulatives as well as frequent quizzes and drills.

The dual language Spanish-English program started in 2016 with kindergarten and 1st grade (with plans to add a pre-k in 2017). It has been hard to attract enough native Spanish speakers to the new program, the principal said; the 1st grade class had only 12 students when we visited.

The principal hired a fulltime gym teacher when she realized that children simply weren't moving. "These children don't know how to jump Double-Dutch," she said, recalling that it was one of her favorite activities growing up. Every PE class begins with a cardio-vascular work out and is followed by active sports such as hockey. Studio in a School offers art instruction and there are collaborations with numerous outside arts and other organizations.

Weekly community circle meetings feature shout-outs, songs and lessons about bullying. The principal cites the 2002 movie "Drumline" as an inspiration: "one band, one sound." We get the message to "be kind" a 3rd grader told us.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are two classrooms for students with special needs only and a SETTS teacher who offers supports services to students with IEPs. The school offers RTI (Response to intervention) to all at-risk students with learning or behavioral needs.

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school but children from outside of the zone are regularly accepted. (Pamela Wheaton, November 2016)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

Number of Students 313

Average Daily Attendance 89%

Students at this school

Asian

  
0%

Black

  
71%

Hispanic

  
29%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
89%

Special ed

  
14%

English Language Learners

  
4%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

89% 81% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

89% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

49% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

21% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

35% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

94% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA 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?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA 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:

17% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

78% 93% 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?

91% 86% 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:

0% 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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