Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School
BRONX NY 10452 Map
Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School
Opened in September 2008, the Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School was located in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx for two years before its scheduled move to a new, permanent location at 180 W. 165th Street (near University Avenue) in September 2010. On our visit, the school had grades K-3, but plans to expand to grade 8. The school's new home is in a brand new seven-story "green "building . Facilities include a gym and a library/media center equipped with computers and a SMART Board.
Bronx Academy's stated mission is to educate each student to meet rigorous learning standards as well as to inform them about varied career choices. The school is headed by Jennifer Ciavirella, a Bronx native with years of experiences as a principal of a public charter school in Baltimore.
Most students arrive early enough for an 8 am breakfast, dressed in their school uniform of a light blue polo shirt with the school's logo and navy blue bottoms. Unlike most charter schools, Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School does not have an extended school day: classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and there is no after school program. The school follows the Department of Education's school schedule from September to June.
The welcoming hallways and classrooms are decorated with student's artwork, charts, and class assignments. Along with core subjects, such as math, social studies and science, Bronx Academy takes pride in its arts and music program. Arts and music are offered twice a week and students benefit from city partnerships, such as an opera program at Lincoln Center. All 3rd graders particpate in a program sponsored Carnegie Hall, where they learn to play the recorder and visit the concert hall to perform their music.
Fine art gets an audience, too. Vibrant pieces of student work adorn classrooms and hallways. According to Ciavirella, student work is also displayed at local businesses. Certainly Parents are welcome not only to come in and view the children's work but to
Unfortunately, we visited on student "picture day" and were unable to observe normal classroom activities. In the few classrooms we visited, students were enthusiastic participants, reading aloud with the teacher and raising their hands to answer questions. While uniforms might seem to brand a school as falling on the "traditional" end of the education spectrum, Ciavirella said that the schools' approach to curriculum is more progressive. Teachers strive for a holistic or "interdisciplinary" approach to learning by weaving in lessons on the same topic of study into all subject areas.
One example of this holistic approach is the school's emphasis on wellness. Concerned by the growing problem in the Bronx of childhood obesity, teachers incorporate exercise and wellness education into the curriculum. We observed a classroom of students doing jumping jacks during classroom lessons, and the school participates in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund walk and the International Walk to School Day. Bronx Academy also offers yoga classes to both students and parents one day a week after school.
The school also integrates information about careers into projects and lessons. On a trip to the Bronx Botanical Garden, students spoke with botanists and gardeners about their career paths, as well as enjoyed the exhibits.
Parent participation is encouraged. Ciavirella said that parents are welcome to visit their child's classroom any time, as long as they notify a teacher first.
In its first year, Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School was affiliated with the commercial charter school company called Imagine Schools. The school severed its ties with the company in May 2009 after the school's board and principal had problems with the company, according to an April 2010 New York Times report.
Special education: Students with special needs account for 25% of the school's population. They get one-on-one support in from one of two special education teachers in a separate classroom.
English language learners: Roughly one-quarter of the school's students are learning English as a second language (ESL). English language learners get individualized lessons from one of the school's two ESL teachers.
Admissions: Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School selects its students by lottery, with preference given to District 9 students.(Shaneen Grinage, November 2010 visit; Nancy Brandwein, telephone interview, April 2010)