J.H.S. 210 Elizabeth Blackwell
QUEENS NY 11416 Map
J.H.S. 210 Elizabeth Blackwell
MS 210 is a huge school serving more than 2,000 children, many of whom speak Spanish, Bengali, Arabic, Urdu or Chinese at home. As is often the case at big middle schools, some students complain of fights and bullying. Still, we saw some engaging classes and lively debates in a program for advanced students and in classes in English as a Second Language.
While most students say they feel safe in class, nearly one-third of students responding to the Learning Environment Survey said they don't always feel safe in hallways, bathrooms or lockers. Nonetheless, the results represent an improvement over previous surveys.
Principal Rosalyn Allman-Manning tries to stay in touch with students, despite the school's size. On our visit, she asked one boy why he was late and then praised him when he said it was the first day he hadn't been on time in three months. Walking past bulletin boards, she pointed out examples of outstanding student work. And she expressed understandable dismay when two police officers from the local precinct showed up--about an altercation between two students after school.
"We work very hard to keep our children safe," she said. There are no metal detectors, and the school is not on any of the city or state lists of unsafe buildings.
MS 210 offers an accelerated program that lets students take the Regents exam in algebra and living environment as well as the Spanish proficiency exam. Most of the students in it are admitted for 6th grade, based on test scores, teacher recommendations and portfolios. An overwhelming percentage of the students who take the Regents pass them, enabling more than 20 percent of 8th graders to have some high school credits.
Many classes, particularly advanced classes and those for English language learners, clearly captured the students' interest. An 8th grade English class held a lively debate over how they thought the short story "The Lady or the Tiger?" should end. In another class, students watched closely as the teacher poured various substances into a beaker to demonstrate density. A 6th grade class worked with a representative of the city Department of Transportation to design a road sign.
Some classes are more prosaic. In one, an English teacher prepared students for the state test two months before the test date.
The alma mater of rapper Nicki Minaj, MS 210 also offers talent programs. Music gets particular attention, with several choruses and a band.
The staff translates many materials into different languages and maintains an informative website for parents. The PTA has sponsored workshops and holds a multi-cultural family night featuring food and games from at least eight different countries.
"There are a lot of concerned parents who want to make sure their children are in the building, arriving on time and learning," the parent coordinator says.
Special education: The school has two collaborative team teaching classes on each grade and self-contained special education classes as well.
Admissions: zoned neighborhood school. (Gail Robinson, February 2012)