Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies
BROOKLYN NY 11203 Map
Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies
At the Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies, a small middle school in East Flatbush, students study the Chinese language, marketing strategies and the legal system, in addition to standard middle school courses. The environment is neat and orderly, with hallways and classrooms filled with student work, established routines, and a cadre of dedicated teachers who work together. Students, who got quickly to work in all of their classes, said that the only aspect of their school that they disliked was the uniform policy.
Building and location: The school shares a stately old public school building in East Flatbush with East Flatbush Community Research School, Arts and Media Preparatory Academy, and a District 75 program, which serves students with severe disabilities. IS 232, the original school, was closed due to poor performance in June 2009. It has two gyms, a small cafeteria and an outdoor play area.
The wood paneled classrooms have big windows, and the administration replaced the standard-issue desks with an attractive hardwood version, adding to the academic atmosphere. Books are organized neatly in the classrooms, and students were using Mac laptops.
School environment and culture: The small school is very orderly. Teachers and students follow a series of set procedures: all blackboards had a standard setup, teacher's lessons are written on large pieces of paper that hang from the classroom ceiling, students must wear a uniform, and all classes start with a quick, timed activity. All faculty members we spoke to, half of whom entered the profession during the past two years through the Teaching Fellow program, said the administration is supportive, transparent, and welcomes collaboration.
Collaboration, a buzz word at many schools, is a key component of the Marketing and Legal Studies culture. The school's schedule provides time for up to four teachers to work with small groups of students in a single English or math class. We saw several faculty members gather informally for lunch in the principal's office to discuss a student they were worried about. One second-year teacher, who had previously worked in marketing for a paramedical company, was sitting in the back of another math teacher's room during her lesson. "This is my break," he told us, "but since I am about to teach this lesson, I wanted to sit in here and see how it went with her class."
Teaching and curriculum: Lessons were well planned and students worked diligently from the moment they entered the room. Student projects and papers displayed in the classrooms and hallways showcased creative assignments. In one 7th grade class, students wrote ten first-person diary entries from the perspective of a slave, touching on everything from being captured to life on a plantation, with an entry on escape or freedom.
Students were particularly excited about their marketing, legal studies, and Chinese language classes. The courses are focused around students' interests, like sports and fashion. "I want students to know that while they may not be the next Lebron James, they could be his lawyer or the person who markets his brand," said founding Principal Jameela Horton-Ball, who grew up and taught in Brooklyn prior to becoming principal. Marketing and legal studies are taught in alternating six week cycles. Students in the marketing class learn to analyze advertisements, and break down the importance of the four Ps in marketing: product, placement, promotion, and price. Students said that when they watch television, they often find themselves teaching their families about the messages in commercials.
In the legal studies class, students begin by studying the formation of the American legal system and how it functions. In seventh grade, the curriculum focuses on criminal law, and juvenile criminal law in particular, and in eighth grade, students study family, business, sports, and entertainment law.
We saw 6th graders in a Chinese language class, which all students study twice a week, filling in cartoon bubbles with their own dialog in Chinese. While some students struggled to translate their ideas, their teacher, a recent Yale graduate who had spent a year in China, reminded them to plan their dialog based on their limited Chinese. The faculty seemed strong across the board: In fact, when a group of twenty students were asked if they had any favorite teachers, they named almost every teacher in the school.
Family participation: The principal has an open-door policy and families are encouraged to attend events such as a science night. Despite the school's attempts to engage families, teachers admitted that family participation was low.
After school: All students are expected to attend after school programs. Since there are no arts classes during the school day, many students choose an art related activity, like ballroom dancing, drama, and or African American dance. There is also wrestling, chess, robotics, basketball, tutoring and test prep.
Special education: There is one Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) class in each grade, and a special education teacher who coordinates provides extra support outside regular classes.
English Language Learners: Very few children require language services. The school shares one ELL teacher with East Flatbush Community Research School. Students who don't speak any English are paired with another student who speaks their native language, but Horton-Ball said that her school is not particularly well equipped to help students who don't speak any English, since there are no dedicated ELL classes.
Admissions: District 18 middle school choice process. (Lindsey Whitton Christ, May 2009)