Elijah Stroud Middle School
BROOKLYN NY 11238 Map
Elijah Stroud Middle School
Established in 2005, Elijah Stroud is a small school focused on teaching academic skills and raising reading scores. Students are supported by adults who know them personally and work to help them through the tough middle school years.
Building and location: Located in a residential area on the border between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, MS 316 shares its 1960's era building with the Elijah Stroud Elementary School. The principals have a close working relationship and the schools have overcome initial space-sharing problems. The middle school occupies the third floor of the Y-shaped building; the library, cafeteria, and auditorium are shared. The library is small and lacks sufficient middle school material. The cafeteria provides ample space for the entire student body to eat lunch together. Middle school students often use a city park on the block for recess after lunch, or a staff parking lot equipped with basketball courts.
School environment and culture: Founding Principal Claudette Essor is uncommonly proactive in her efforts to support teachers and students. She makes it clear that she is in charge of adolescents who need close supervision. She knows each student by name and attempts to prevent or resolve conflicts while preserving the dignity of all involved. We observed her politely and firmly ask three unruly students to come out of their art class with her. She listened and spoke with them about their behavior. They each acknowledged the rules they had broken. At the end of the conversation the principal informed them that they would each spend lunch recess in detention. The students appeared disappointed, but respectfully and quietly returned to class. Students are also supported by a grade-wide school aide whose task is to know each student personally. The school uniform code is loosely enforced, but no students are permitted to wear coats or hats while in the building.
Hallways and classrooms are colorful and engaging. We saw recent examples of student work in all subjects, with teacher comments attached. Classes travel together, from one classroom to another throughout the day. Special education students stay in their home room for academic subjects, leaving for art, library, and computer classes. Sixth and seventh graders attend weekly advisory periods, small small group sessions with a teacher who provides academic, social, and personal guidance.
Teaching and Curriculum: As an assistant principal in the Bronx, Essor helped turn-around a school with low academic achievement. She faces a similar challenge at Elijah Stroud. A strong believer in teacher training, she established weekly common planning periods for teachers as well as regular workshops. Technology plays an important role in instruction with six SMART Boards deployed throughout the school and a math/technology teacher who meets with each class once a week in a well-equipped lab. Students learn how to use word processors, make Power Point presentations, and use Internet resources.
We saw students busily engaged in project-based assignments in each classroom, mostly working together in groups. In an 8th grade science class students made Punnett squares to predict genetic outcomes of various gene combinations. One student sat apart from the others in order to better concentrate, she said, an example of how teachers and students communicate to address specific student needs. A self-contained 8th grade special education class used a SMART Board to complete a reading comprehension assignment on Langston Hughes's poem "Thank You Ma'am." A 6th grade ELA teacher lectured from the front of the room, but encouraged students to exchange editing ideas.
Partnerships and programs: Graphic artists from ESPN worked with the students to design the school logo.
Special education: Students with special needs account for between 20% and 30% of the population. Elijah Stroud offers self-contained classes with a 12:1:1 ratio on all grades.
English language learners: The school has very few ELL students; classroom teachers are encouraged to group ELL students with bilingual students who can assist them in class.
After school: Two days are devoted to literacy and math. Students must attend these to be eligible for the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation programs offered once a week. A Saturday community technology education program is offered from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Four teachers facilitate computer and technology use by staff, students, and family members.
Family involvement: Family involvement is low, except on Parent-Teacher night and at events where students perform, according to the principal. At the time of our visit, there was no parent coordinator.
Admissions: Elijah Stroud Middle School is a zoned school; priority is given to graduates of the elementary school. Enrollment has dropped, the principal said, because the school is not included in the District 17 choice process and families don't see it as an option, something she vows to change. (Sara Doar/Gretchen Krebs, November 2009)