M.S. 101 Edward R. Byrne
BRONX NY 10465 Map
M.S. 101 Edward R. Byrne
Serving just over 500 children in grades 5-8, MS 101, also known as the Maritime Academy, is a rare gem. It is located in a quiet neighborhood of two-family houses just off the Throgs Neck Bridge and has a population of kids who come from various backgrounds children of judges and doctors, as well as children whose parents are homeless and others who depend on the free breakfast and lunch for their daily sustenance.
The school requires students to take seven to nine periods of science and math weekly. Annual science projects are also compulsory. Students use computer technology as much as possible, in everything from creating digital pictures for hallway decorations to producing the student newspaper. Seventh and eighth graders teach themselves math in a self-paced, computer tutorial program by Carnegie Melon University.
There is much beyond technology, however, at this school where group instruction is emphasized. The school has created a writing project in which all students; staff, parents and the principal keep journals based around activities like Chinese New Year or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.
The school enforces its dress code white top and navy pants or skirt. It uses textbooks sparingly, and teachers, who produce their own materials, meet frequently to coordinate lessons. One 5th grade class, for example, wrote poems about science, which were then compiled and published by a local printer. Lessons in social studies, math and English are taught in the study of colonial times. In social studies, students read diaries and historical accounts of the era; in math they learn how to use grids to make a map of a colonial city; and in English they read writers of the period. Their hard work is rewarded with a trip to historic sites in Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. The school raises money for kids who can't afford the trip so that no one is left behind. Seventh and 8th graders also go abroad each year for one week. Parents share their expertise. One mother, a Bronx Criminal Court judge, helped organize a mock trial for students and a father who works at NBC studios took a class behind the scenes to see the technology involved in producing a show.
The school promotes an environment of social justice, one way to counter the impact of the violence many kids see in their neighborhoods. Students are also given exercises to remind them that everyone in their community matters, and they observe "appreciation days" for custodians and cafeteria workers, people who touch their lives daily. Bullying and fights happen occasionally, but the staff nips such problems in the bud, according to Principal Rodriguez.
After-school: Maritime has an affiliation with the long established Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club which runs a program until 5:30 p.m. There are also debate and robotics clubs.
Admissions: The school is open to all District 8 students who received the highest scores on statewide tests in their school. Three names are sent to the region from each elementary school by the principal, even if that high score is a "2" -below grade level. Children are then invited by the region to participate in the lottery. Those who respond in writing have their names added for the public drawing. About 300 students apply for 125 seats. (This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Middle Schools. Jacquie Wayans, January 2004, phone update 2006)