M.S. 45 S.T.A.R.S. Prep Academy
MANHATTAN NY 10035 Map
M.S. 45 S.T.A.R.S. Prep Academy
SEPTEMBER 2010 UPDATE: Tomasz Grabski, formerly principal at the Muscota New School, became principal, replacing longtime principal Maria Aviles. IS 45 shares its building with the Leadership Village Academy, a charter school that opened in 2005. The Coalition for Social Change High School moved into the building in September 2009. Urban Peace and the School for the Physical City, two high schools formerly located in the building, closed in June 2010.
MARCH 2003 REVIEW: IS 45 assumed its present form in 1997, when failing programs were removed from the building. Rafael Cordero Bilingual Academy remained, and two new programs were added: Science and Humanities and East Harlem Tech. Students in the three programs wear different uniforms, and all three have separate identities: Science and Humanities is selective; East Harlem Tech has what its director calls "savvy but under-socialized" kids; and Rafael Cordero is a traditional bilingual program. Principal Maria Aviles, who brings the programs together in many activities, oversees the whole school, while each program has an assistant principal serving as director. There is a school-wide parent coordinator and one parents association. Weekly staff development sessions bring teachers together not by program, but subject matter.
During our visit, kids in Science and Humanities were orderly and engaged in their studies, which ranged from analyzing "Freak the Mighty" in English class to examinations of probability (math class) to exploration of East Harlem prehistory (social studies class). Students worked in groups and participated in serious discussions.
Rafael Cordero has three homerooms per grade, one of which is conducted primarily in Spanish. There are also three English as a Second Language instructors. With the teacher using a tank of water for demonstration, a bilingual class we saw was learning how to determine whether objects float or sink. She and the students spoke in Spanish for the most part, but posted results on a chart labeled in English. Kids sat at double desks in rows facing forward. The teaching style was more formal than that of the other two schools.
The East Harlem Tech floor was the most lively - either students were engaging in horseplay (in one instance it got out of hand) or flocking around the director, Chuck McEvoy, a low key, extremely sympathetic former special education supervisor. He described the students as verbally strong but "under-socialized." McEvoy, who began his first year as director in fall, 2003, is working hard to establish order, and he hopes to reorient the school toward the arts. The EHT art room is impressive. The art teacher has rigged a most ingenious Oz-like contraption that springs to action with a "magic formula" recited by the kids and the students' giant pumpkin constructions were on display in the hall.
McEvoy joined the other two directors in lamenting the lack of a 6th grade in the school. "By the time we get them into shape," he said of the students, "they are on their way out the door." Achievement data are reported as though the school were one unit, with Isaac Newton Middle School on 116th Street, and this makes progress difficult to chart.
School-wide programs for students include 8th grade music. During our visit, kids were studying music theory to prepare for clarinet lessons in the spring. IS 45 also has a swimming pool that half the kids can use while the rest use the gym. A school-wide program to promote good behavior, attendance, and academic performance awards points to kids. During Halloween week, children who had amassed 30 points were treated to a screening of Scary Movie II in the auditorium. (Judy Baum, October, 2003)