I.S. 174 Eugene T. Maleska School
MARCH 2009 UPDATE: IS 174 will close in June 2009. The Archimedes Academy and Bronx Math were opened in September 2007 to replace the closing school. In September 2009, the Soundview Academy, a new middle school opening at IS 131, will also serve students formerly zoned for IS 174.
March 2007 UPDATE: IS 174 is phasing out and will graduate its last class of students in 2009. Two new and smaller middle schools, Bronx Mathematics Preparatory Academy and Archimedes Academy for Math, Science and Technology Applications, are moving into the building and currently accepting applications for 6th grade.
October 2003 REVIEW: We often hear about the nightmare schools of the Bronx, but rarely do we hear about a very different sort, the kind of school, like IS 174, making huge efforts to turn itself around.
When Principal Anthony Orzo arrived in 1999, he inherited a school that had been through a series of principals and had lost a large assortment of teachers. Upset parents were refusing to enroll their kids and understandably so. They heard reports of student fights, sexual encounters on back stairs and an overall tone of lack of respect for teachers. Little wonder that the school's enrollment dropped to 800.
Orzo worked hard to establish a new atmosphere. He made clear to students that he was a "good guy" to whom they could talk, but he also allowed his deans to demand good conduct. Students prone to fighting received counseling, not just disciplinary action. Today, suspensions, once numbering in the hundreds, have dropped to a mere handful, and the school feels very safe.
Orzo's impact has been noticed in the community. "My mom only let me come here because the principal had changed," said one 8th grade honors student. It has also been noticed where it counts most - in the school. "Now, relationships between staff, student and parent have improved, and we are all willing to do more," says a teachers' union representative, Michael Loffredo. Indeed, the principal, teachers and union seem to be working together to improve the school.
Despite all the good work, Orzo still faces considerable challenges. IS 174 is on the state's list of "corrective action" schools, those that have not yet made sufficient progress in improving academic performance for the past 2 years. Also, the quality of classes we saw was mixed. Some teachers were, simply, uninspired.
We saw some very solid teaching, too, however. We were impressed, for example, by a special education class that put on a performance in which students presented the flags, food and descriptions of countries they had studied. Sushi and hummus lined their plates as the kids listened to each other's talks. In a top track 8th grade class, students were reading Flowers for Algernon, a heart-breaking book about a mentally retarded man who develops genius intelligence. A young teacher who knew how to motivate the troops led the class and the students eagerly participated in discussions about the book's symbolism and metaphors of betrayal. Another new teacher refused to let higher performing students get bored, plying them with an extra assignment page for homework.
The school has a strong sports program, with an outstanding basketball team. (Jacquie Wayans, October 2003)
Note: As of September, 2005 Ms. Sharon Delaney is the new principal, replacing Mr. Anthony Orzo who became the Local Instructional Superintendent. (June 2006)