The Angelo Patri Middle School
BRONX NY 10457 Map
The Angelo Patri Middle School
MAY 2011 UPDATE: MS 391 is one of twenty-two schools that will receive Small Improvement Grant funding of up to $2 million to implement the “Restart” intervention model. Each “Restart” school will be matched to a non-profit educational partner organization that will work closely with the principal and school community to implement a targeted improvement plan aimed at strengthening the curriculum, developing academic supports for students, and helping teachers improve practice. These schools will remain open and a new class of students will be admitted next year.
2006 UPDATE: As of June 2006 Pedro Santana became principal of MS 391, replacing Donna Raskin who was principal when Insideschools visited the school in 2003.
2003 REVIEW: The administration at MS 391 is trying to build a cohesive school in a community that has been in economic distress for many years. Students have been known to run home at the end of the day to avoid group fights, but in this tidy school they find guidance counselors who go the distance for them. "The school itself is not bad, and the biggest concern is the transition from school to home," says Parent Coordinator Lisa Liriano.
When Principal Donna Raskin came aboard in 2002, she listed improving safety and the tone of the building as her highest priorities. The solution in some grades was for teachers to begin reinforcing good behavior. Today, when kids are attentive in class, they collect reward tickets that they may redeem for goodies ranging from extra recess time to ice cream parties. Students understand that they can learn and have fun, but that if they are disruptive they lose privileges.
Raskin says the phrase "Because I said so," doesn't work for middle school students, and, for that reason, she has worked to train teachers in classroom management techniques. This is a good thing, because it is apparent that some teachers need help; during our visit it was very easy to hear one teacher yelling through the thin walls of this once open-classroom complex, and we saw a few 6th- and 8th-grade classrooms that needed better direction. Seventh-grade classes were notably more orderly.
The school is divided into three academies by grade: Voices, which focuses on writing and arts in 6th grade. Technology for 7th graders; and Broadcast and Journalism in the 8th grade, when students take classes such as "media and literacy," where they get to look at videos and movies and determine how they media affects society.
In a 6th-grade class, we were impressed with a short story-writing assignment. One student's tale, called "The Regret," clearly described feelings of remorse over hunting and hurting another creature. Although the text had notable spelling and grammar errors, it was poetic and vividly written.
In a 7th-grade class, teachers tried to make lessons interdisciplinary. Students who had read the novel Holes for English class for example, made a map of the camp territory described in the book for their social studies class and then calculated the land's measurements in math.
In an 8th-grade class, students prepared for a social studies exam by playing a Jeopardy-style game. Unfortunately, the groups were easily distracted and only a handful of participants had learned what they needed to know to function in the game.
After-school programs are growing stronger. One creative program called the Cumancheros helps immigrant students learn English through music. (Jacquie Wayans, November 2003)