I.S. 24 Myra S. Barnes
STATEN ISLAND NY 10308 Map
I.S. 24 Myra S. Barnes
Teamwork is important to making any school successful, and IS 24 has teamwork in boundless quantities.
The spirit of cooperation starts in the classroom, as IS 24 is one of a number of city middle schools with a team approach to teaching. In every grade, a cluster of teachers five to six per team takes charge of three classes. The kids get to know all these adults well, and when parents are called in for a meeting, they confer with the student?s entire teaching team.
Some schools treat middle schoolers as if they were already in high school. At this school, however, teachers give kids the same amount of support and protection an elementary school would offer. Indeed, the school tries to ease the transition for new 6th graders with a welcome breakfast within weeks of their arrival.
IS 24 not only has the highest 8th grade math and English language arts exam scores on Staten Island, it was recognized in 2003 by New York State for its improvement on these tests over the prior three years. Administrators also seem to recognize that education is more than test scores, and there is an array of elective "talent" classes offered to students when they first enter the school art, band, computers, media, performing arts, stagecraft or legal studies. The "Student of the Month" award from each team often honors non-academic accomplishments, while the "You've Been Caught" program commends acts of kindness or courtesy.
Education appeared top notch on our visit. One 6th grade class composed essays from the point of view of the wildly costumed ferret depicted on the classroom calendar to creative and often hilarious result. Seventh grade scientists, working in teams, recreated a dinosaur dig by assembling dinosaur models. This same class had produced the first and third place teams in a citywide robotics competition during the 2003-04 school year. In an 8th grade Math A (high school level) class, the teacher and students engaged in playful give-and-take, while working seriously to graph algebraic equations. Seventh graders studied the American Revolution from both the colonists' and the British point of view.
Arts are particularly strong, with kids fashioning everything from pop art sculptures to pieces inspired by the Impressionists. The performing arts culminate in a spring musical in which hundreds of students participate. Students in a stagecraft class we visited pored over scripts of this year?s production, Grease, as they prepared a list of required props.
Special education: The school has a well-equipped and well-staffed program in which 300 students, including some from a local special education school, drawn by the reputation of the school, participate.
After-school: Activities range from school dances to science and international fairs, but many programs charge a fee. (This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Middle Schools. Tom Huser, February 2004)