Grant Avenue Elementary School
BRONX NY 10456 Map
Grant Avenue Elementary School
Located on a quiet street in Morrisania, not far from Yankee Stadium, Grant Avenue Elementary is a new school off to a promising start. Founding Principal Kristin Erat opened the school in 2009, in the building that used to house now-closed CIS 166. The school is a welcoming place where all children enjoy special activities like art, theatre and dance.
Lots of colorful artwork hangs on the walls in Grant Avenue's corner of the building, showcasing students' creative art projects, like clay monster creations made by kindergartners. In core subject classes, children sit with their desks in clusters of four and quietly focus on their work while the teachers cycle through the small groups to give the children instruction and guidance. We also saw kids huddled together on their classroom rugs, attentively listening to their teachers read aloud or explain a lesson.
The school is co-located with Bronx Early College Academy for Teaching and Learning, a 6-12 school, and Science and Technology Academy: A Mott Hall School. Grant Avenue does have separate classrooms for art, dance, social studies and theatre and some time in the shared gym for P.E. class. But, unfortunately, the school does not have a schoolyard, so recess is always indoors. Half the school has recess before lunch; the other half plays in classrooms that double as playrooms after they eat. Since her students are indoors all day, Erat says she tries to make sure they are physically active during the day. For example, Erat says, some teachers practice yoga with their students. On the day of our visit, the third graders were on a field trip to a wolf conservatory.
Erat, a former 5th-grade teacher, says she founded Grant Avenue Elementary because she "loved teaching" and wanted to extend the lessons she learned in the classroom to create a school (read more about her philosophy in this SchoolBook interview). One of her goals is to bring the whole family together to enable academic success. She wants students' parents or guardians to visit the school at least four times a year. As of January 2012, Erat says, more than one in five families had already met her goal of four visits during the school year. Parents get ID cards from the school and swipe in at the main office so Erat can keep track of visits. Parents and teachers gave the school extremely high marks on the 2011 Learning Envrionment Survey.
Students we saw in Grant Avenue's dual language Spanish program were engaged, but the school is struggling to find the right mix of students. In 2012, four out of five children in the program were native Spanish speakers. Ideally, half the children in the program would speak English at home and the other half Spanish.
At the time of our visit, Grant Avenue had kindergarten through 3rd grade. The school will continue to add a grade to both dual language and general education each year until in 2014.
Special education/ESL: At the time of our visit, the school offered both self-contained and SETTS classes. The principal says the school may offer collaboratively taught classes – a mixed class with special education and general education students – in the future, instead of SETTS, depending on enrollment. English as a Second Language students may receive language services in class or outside the classroom.