Girls Preparatory Charter School of the Bronx

681 KELLY STREET
BRONX NY 10455 Map
Phone: (718) 292-2113
Website: Click here
Admissions: Lottery. Priority to District 8.
Principal: Josie Carbone
Neighborhood: South Bronx
District:8
Grade range: K-6
Unzoned
Charter School

What's special:

All-girls school that empowers girls and parents; two specials daily

The downside:

Afterschool programs don't promote healthy eating or core values

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Girls Preparatory Charter School Bronx, modeled after Girls Preparatory Charter School on the Lower East Side, emphasizes strong academics and core values of "scholarship, merit, sisterhood and responsibility."

Principal Josie Carbone, a graduate of the all-female Smith College, feels a personal connection with the mission of Girls Prep. "We get to see the whole range of the personality," she said. "These girls haven't developed the issues of 'this is a boy thing' or 'this is a girl thing' yet." Carbone worked with the administration in the Lower East Side school as part of her principal training. She taught for three years each at PS 63 and PS 191 and was a founding teacher at the Bronx Charter School for the Arts.

The girls walk through bright yellow hallways wearing dark blue tunics over white shirts, paired with purple sneakers, colorful barrettes and zany striped tights. In addition to regular classes each girl has two specials a day; gym, music, dance, visual arts or yoga. The school juggles cafeteria, gym and auditorium space with MS 302. Sharing space was at first, "a concern" for parent Cherisse Sexton, but the middle schoolers have been "nothing but respectful toward the girls," she said.

Teachers crouch to eye level as they instruct groups of four or five around tables or on a large floor rug. In a 1st-grade classroom, groups of four were busily adding details to stories in notebooks filled with writing. Each classroom has one lead teacher and one fellow, who is a recent college graduate or a career changer. The girls are often addressed as "ladies" or "sisters" and are encouraged to articulate their ideas. One recent Ecuadorian immigrant in 2nd grade, who came to the school speaking no English, flipped through Harold and the Purple Crayon to pages she had marked with Post-its. "Here he was scared," she said, pointing. "Here he got happy. It's a conflicting book."

Parents are invited to family yoga classes, a masquerade ball and a winter festival, as well as biweekly "unity meetings," which are hosted by classrooms and feature the accomplishments of women achievers. “We have pretty decent family involvement,” said Carbone.

A somewhat elaborate system for behavior includes problem-solving techniques and a color-coded chart, which shows at a glance how each girl is doing. Five categories range from orange (I am learning and helping my sisters learn) to red (My learning has stopped). The girl who embodies all core values is named Star of the Week.

Girls may attend one of three after-school programs; two are off-site. The school cannot afford its own tailored program for now-a drawback for parents who would like to see the promotion of healthy food choices and core values even after school hours.

Special Education: The school tries to spot problems early, and children who fall even a few months behind in reading get extra help from a specialist four times a week. Special ed and general ed students are mixed in classes with two teachers, one who is trained in special education.

Admissions: Lottery. Preference goes to District 8 families and siblings. The school also attracts families from nearby Districts 7, 9 and 12. (Lydie Raschka, January 2011)

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