Arts & Media Preparatory Academy
BROOKLYN NY 11203 Map
Arts & Media Preparatory Academy
At Arts and Media Prep, a tiny high school housed in the IS 232 building in East Flatbush, teachers encourage students to write blogs and create multimedia presentations as part of their coursework. After school, students choose activities such as digital journalism and video game theory and design.
The school is a 15-minute walk from the nearest subway and there are some concerns about security in the neighborhood. However, the administration puts a premium on safety: Principal Bob Hall greets his students each morning on the corner outside the building and walks them to the entrance. Teachers say the school is orderly and most students say they feel safe inside the building, according to the Learning Environment Survey.
Arts & Media Prep emphasizes projects and class discussion rather than standardized tests. There are regular research assignments in English and history, for which students write papers and hold debates in the classroom. Parents in this largely West Indian neighborhood also get involved. “You actually hear parents' voices and opinions,” said Malika Bibbs, head of student services for the Education Department's network that supports the school.
Hall founded Arts & Media in 2007 after teaching at Vanguard and Central Park East High Schools in Manhattan, schools founded with a non-traditional approach to education. At Arts & Media, students might write a paper criticizing China's one-child policy, burn peanuts to figure out their calorie content, or craft a wiki—an encyclopedia-style Web page that users may update—about a favored travel destination to show off the knowledge of geography.
Students, referred to as Ampers on the school website, start at 9:15 a.m., later than usual for city schools, giving teachers a chance to meet, plan, discuss students, and further their own development. Classes rotate through the schedule so perpetually late kids don't always miss the same subject.
Staff members communicate with each other online; there are no paper memos. Students and their parents all have school e-mail addresses. Students submit homework assignments online. All have access to Apple computers in the classrooms; homework and student grades are posted online with parents getting instant access.
A progressive educator, Hall doesn't believe in honors or Advanced Placement classes but students may take college courses through College Now. He works to get them internships, and meaningful summer experiences in place of AP courses, which he said tend to emphasize breadth of content over depth.
A downside for students seeking a typical high school experience is the physical plant. Arts & Media is a 4th floor walk up in a middle school building and does not feel like a high school. There are no varsity sports, although there are intramurals.
College admissions: A college counselor does outreach to students and helps with applications and essays. Many students struggle with the financial aspects of getting to college, says Bibbs.
Special education: Half of the classes are collaborative team teaching classes, in which special education and general education students are mixed; they each have two teachers. The school also offers Special Education Teacher Support Services, or SETSS.
Admissions: Limited unscreeened. (Philissa Cramer, 2008; Pamela Wheaton, interviews & web reports, September 2012)