Brooklyn Charter School

545 WILLOUGHBY AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11206 Map
Phone: (718) 302-2085
Admissions: Lottery/District 14 priority
unzoned
charter
Principal: Omigbade Escayg
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant
District: 14
Grade range: 01 thru 05

What's special:

Quiet, orderly atmosphere.

The downside:

Few computers

The InsideStats

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http://insideschools.org/


Our review

Clean and orderly, Brooklyn Charter is housed in PS 23, across from the Marcy housing projects. The founding principal, Omigbade Escayg, is a graduate of the respected Bank Street College of Education, while an assistant principal brings charter school experience from the now-closed Reisenbach Charter School in Harlem. The school benefits from an esteemed volunteer, known simply as "Dr. Steve," who believes in children and the possibilities of charter schools, as well as a literacy coach who has created an old-time mailbox outside her door for students to drop off messages and assignments. Each classroom contains a library and a rarity in public schools: globes, enough for many students to use at the same time. During our visit, the rooms in this school, which opened in fall 2001, appeared to be larger than classrooms in other schools, but we realized that this was the happy result of the small class size.

Students and teachers worked well together. In one math class, students made supportive comments to peers such as "I knew you could do it," when students worked through problems correctly at the board. One student was not content with offering only the answer, but went the extra mile to explain why the answer was right and how she had arrived at it. To a student struggling with a math problem at the board, the teacher calmly said: "This was a hard one, let me help you." The teacher then broke the problem down step-by-step, maintaining a cherry disposition and, it was clear, a high level of student respect.

English classes seemed more of a struggle for students. Fifth graders still had problems perfecting reading techniques, such as how to sound out multi-syllabic words. Still, the curriculum seemed well positioned to meet the students' needs while also challenging them. Because many students enter the school reading below grade level or, in the case of younger students, without adequate preparation for reading and writing the school integrates literacy into all subject areas, even art. We were impressed with the level of detail in school-wide projects, lining the hallways, about the Iroquois.

The art teacher, preparing to enter the world of sculpturing with the students, first made them aware of sculpting vocabulary and then explained the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects. The Caribbean-African dance class worked on intricate choreography that even the boys willingly tried. We saw many quick learners and a few possible stars in this rhythmic class. One student commented, "Dance and my homeroom teacher are my favorite. Oh, and the art teacher too."

City education officials, working with the teachers' union, to open charter schools under their guidance and juristiction, created Brooklyn Charter as part of a push to better educational opportunities for students in communities where the public school system has sorely failed. It was the first charter school in the city run under the jurisdiction of the city Department of Education rather than New York State. The main differences between it and State charters are that Brooklyn Charter students must take the citywide standardized exams, while students at other charter schools take only state tests; its discipline code must follow the city DOE code; and the school may operate only from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., not in the extended hours of many other charter schools But the most important element of charter school instruction remains the same: the curriculum is still chosen and implemented by the school.

The school has few computers, and students receive little exposure to technology. All reports and papers posted were hand written.

Special education: Most special education services are provided outside school.

After school: There is no program apart from test prep for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.

Admissions: A lottery is held in April.  Priority is given to District 14 residents.(Jacquie Wayans, March 2005)

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