P.S. 139 Alexine A. Fenty
BROOKLYN NY 11226 Map
P.S. 139 Alexine A. Fenty
PS 139 serves a neighborhood with large Victorian houses and modest apartment buildings, long-time New Yorkers as well as new immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, the former Soviet Union, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Despite its huge size, the school has a warm atmosphere and a sense of camaraderie among parents. An active Parents Association welcomes new immigrants. Both children and parents may study English as a Second Language. One immigrant mother told us how a teacher taught her the alphabet in English, so she could help her own child learn.
Parents help out in the classrooms--and some stop by even without an appointment. One mother told us she enjoyed helping out in a cooking lesson in her child’s class.
The building has long housed two popular mini-schools, the Flatbush Academy, focused on science, and the Brotherhood Institute, focused on social students. It also offers a SOAR (Students of Academic Rigor) program with accelerated classes for academically advanced students. However, in January 2014, Principal Mary McDonald told parents that PS 139 would no longer offer the SOAR program, or the mini-schools, to incoming kindergartners. Citing a lack of diversity in those programs she said in a letter to parents: "Our Kindergarten classes will be heterogeneously grouped to reflect the diversity of our student body and the community we live in," the Daily News reported.
Students already enrolled in the mini-schools and the SOAR program would remain in those programs until graduation, she said.
While the school has strong arts programs and a nationally ranked chess team, it has only average test scores. The principal has introduced a new math program and modified the reading program to boost the scores.
The Learning Environment Survey suggests the administration and staff don't get along, but on our visit teachers and the principal seemed to work together as a team.
Special education: The school offers a wide range of special education services. The principal, who taught for years in a self-contained special education classroom, has personal experience in dealing with children with Asperger's syndrome. She has particular concerns for children with special needs and understands that some children with disabilities can achieve at a high level.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. The school offers regular tours. (Eliana Mascio, February 2013; updated January 2014 with information about the discontinuation of the SOAR program and the mini schools for incoming kindergartners.)