J.H.S. 143 Eleanor Roosevelt
MANHATTAN NY 10033 Map
J.H.S. 143 Eleanor Roosevelt
Despite the school's large student population, IS 143 is a cozy place in which severely disabled students, immigrants learning English, and general education students work together with the support of teachers so dedicated that they often stay after school to help the kids. Disney songs mark the changing of classes, and the school houses a free dental and medical clinic. Students are also placed in one of three academies to create an even smaller feel to the school.
Among the offerings in the school's strong arts program is a band that features a variety of instruments, from flutes, trombones, and drums to acoustic and electric guitars. The music teacher often brings musician friends to school to help coach small groups. On the day of our visit, while the teacher worked with the band, a group of five students practiced the flute with one of them. Four student-musicians have become so skilled that they were selected to participate in the Middle School Jazz Academy at Lincoln Center, which provides weekly tuition-free jazz instruction that involves giving kids private lessons and assigning them to mentors. The school also has a choir and offers dance instruction, and in 2007, it acquired tap shoes so students can now take tap dance as well.
IS 143's student body includes a high number of recent immigrants from the Dominican Republic, some of whom had a spotty record of school attendance in their home country. "Some can't write letters; others can read and write," said an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who works in a computer lab designed for students learning English. Students use this lab three times a week, working with both their classroom teachers and the ESL teacher. Alianza Dominicana, a community group located in the school building, provides numerous social services, including GED and ESL classes for parents.
The teaching we saw during our visit was strong. Teachers kept kids thinking and focused by relying on well-planned lessons revolving around topics of interest to young adolescents. In one 8th grade English class, for example, students were discussing an article they had read about teenage sex; a science teacher held her class's attention by having a student stand at chalkboard to draw a pattern of molecules found in an ice cube, while she explained solid and liquid compounds.
Evening community groups use the classrooms for adult classes, and teachers complain that books and other supplies go missing, we were told. As a result, many teachers lock resources in cabinets and closets, and take them out when needed.
IS 143 does not have a playground.
English as a Second Language: Students can choose between bilingual or English as a second language education instruction.
Special education: The school serves students with severe mental retardation, as well as students who have milder learning disabilities or who are emotionally disturbed. Some students are taught in a "self-contained" classroom, only with other special education students, while other kids receive help outside their general education classrooms. The school also provides bilingual special education classes.
After school: IS 143 offers programs including tutoring, music, and art Monday to Thursday until 4 p.m. There is also a "Saturday Academy" from 9 a.m. to noon. (Vanessa Witenko, March 2007)