J.H.S. 190 Russell Sage
QUEENS NY 11375 Map
J.H.S. 190 Russell Sage
A solid, diverse school in a middle-class neighborhood, JHS 190 does a good job of preparing academically motivated students, boasting a 25 percent acceptance rate to the specialized high schools. Enthusiastic and experienced teachers, especially in math, science, and honors classes, challenge students and go beyond test prep. But a high suspension rate and low marks from some parents show that the school’s climate may not be nurturing for all students.
The school takes a traditional approach to teaching and learning and divides students into classes by ability, including honors, regular and remedial classes based on their standardized test scores and teacher recommendations. Students are encouraged to take math and science Regents exams. They must write science research papers and show what they have learned through rigorous final projects. Sixth graders may take Latin, and French and Spanish are offered in seventh and eighth grade.
Eighth grade students in a science class in the spring of 2011 were absorbed in a discussion about time and string theory. The teacher pushed students with questions like, “Why does time exist?” and “If time doesn’t exist, because I took you off the planet, would you age?”
Students in other classrooms were engaged in interesting approaches to learning math, although the English classes we visited were less dynamic and some of the lessons did not have a clear direction.
Discipline is emphasized by administrators and the school asks parents to sign a contract that outlines a code of conduct. “We ask parents to be involved,” said Principal Marilyn Grant during a school tour, “they are really going to be partners with us.”
She also said that “some parents abdicate a lot of responsibility for discipline and academics.”
A disturbing incident in 2010 sounded alarm bells after a 12-year-old girl was arrested and handcuffed for doodling on her desk. The school has a suspension rate that is three times higher than that of nearby JHS 157. About one-fifth of the parents who responded to the 2010 learning environment survey said discipline was not applied fairly, and 43 percent of students said that adults in the school yell at students “most or all of the time.”
Grant told Insideschools the police over-reacted and later admitted they were wrong to arrest the girl. At the same time, the principal makes no apologies for strict discipline at the school. “We follow the Department of Education discipline code,” she said. “I can’t make up my own rules.”
The four-story nice-looking blonde brick building felt spacious and had rooms to spare. Some of the classrooms were welcoming and beautifully decorated with student work, but others were barren and hallways were dreary. Budget cuts had also done away with what used to be a vibrant set of after-school offerings, which the principal said she hopes to re-instate for the 2011-12 school year.
Special education: The school offers both collaborative team teaching classes and self-contained classes.
Admissions: A zoned neighborhood school, Russell Sage also admits out-of-zone children under the District-wide choice program. (Kim Nauer, March 2011)