3630 THIRD AVENUE
BRONX NY 10456 Map
BRONX NY 10456 Map
Phone: (718) 590-5455
An effort to prepare middle school students for elite high schools.
Program languished for a while and is now being put back on track.
1 W | 44 B | 47 H | 7 A
English Language Learners:
A first-year principal, Sheri Warren received support from a city Department of Education training program for aspiring principals, and she has found a mentor in Lucy Matos, the founding principal of the progressive Ella Baker school in Manhattan. Although Warren is new to the job, she is not new to the neighborhood or the school building. She served as an assistant principal at IS 219, and therefore is both familiar with and sensitive to the occasional tensions between the two schools.
It is curious that of the five KAPPA schools in the city, the first and oldest has deviated the furthest from what has come to be known as the KIPP model of education, which includes longer school hours and strong arts and language programs. But Warren is eagerly reviving and reinforcing KAPPA's original vision, and calls this period the "year of rebuilding." She plans to offer music instruction for students, which is often an important part of KIPP programming, beginning in September 2006. She has also reached out to and connected with the principals at other KAPPA schools for ideas and support. Students we met told us that teachers frequently encouraged them to apply for prestigious private schools.
There is a special effort to give students a solid foundation in reading and writing, while also building character. Time is set aside each day for reading novels that explore adolescent problems, such as Bronx Masquerade, a novel that centers on open-mike poetry sessions in a Bronx high school English class, and Crash, an award-winning novel about the transformation of a school bully. According to Warren, boys and girls split up and read different books because she has found that certain works resonate more with one gender than the other.
In the classrooms we visited, students were usually focused and motivated. Some of the lessons we saw were particularly interesting, and students were often asked to share their writing or engage in the class discussion. In a math class, kids read a poem on the board and went on to gather data from it, such as counting the frequency of certain letters and creating tables. In an English class, short stories were adapted into scripts, and 8th graders read aloud their piece; one group chose a horror suspense tale.
Warren seems to be offering more challenges for students who welcome it. She plans to introduce honors classes so students may prepare for math and science Regents exams. At the time of our visit, the school was holding a short story contest. "We want to start to compete more," she said.
Admissions: KAPPA is open to students living in the Bronx. The school looks at each child's academic and attendance records, and requires a teacher's letter of recommendation. The application process also involves an interview with the family. (Catherine Man, February 2006)