BROOKLYN NY 11238 Map
MAY 2011 UPDATE: MS 571 will be phased out after years of poor performance. The phase out will begin in September 2011 and will be completed in June 2013.
In 2010, only 8 percent of students were on grade level in English language arts (ELA), and only 14 percent were on grade level in math. Community members expressed concerns about inconsistent school policies, student safety, and a low attendance. In February 2011 the Panel for Education Policy approved the DOE’s proposal to phase out and replace the school due to persistently low performance and an inability to be transformed.
JANUARY 2009 UPDATE: Principal Santosha Troutman came to MS 571 in July 2008 to take over for Marissa Burson-Flateau, who is out on leave. Troutman was previously the principal at IS 33 which closed in 2007. In a telephone conversation with Insideschools.org, Troutman reports that she has brought in a new math coach to improve curriculum and instruction. The school enjoys a new computer lab and a new science lab was slated to open in Spring 2009 which will be "an important addition to our school," she said. Next on the list in terms of facilities is a library and media center. "We are working with the elementary school [PS 9 housed downstairs] to put this together. We have the space, but not the materials, so we are looking for grants," said Troutman.
In addition to academics, every Friday students take classes in dance, step dancing, baton twirling, cosmetology, skateboarding, basketball or drama. Every eight weeks, students switch activities so all students get to try a variety of activities, the principal said..
Troutman said the school has also developed several programs to foster personal growth in its students. A special program designed to help underachieving students prepare for and succeed in colleges called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) takes place during the school day. "This effort starts to get students ready for college even before high school, " Troutman said. Students are taught study skills, like note-taking as well as social skills. "We take them on field trips so they know how to behave in other settings. We also have a tutor to meet with students. There is also a strong emphasis on peer tutoring, so they learn the rewards of helping others,"said Troutman.
There are special programs for at-risk students called "Boys to Men" and "Girl Talk" in which male teachers are paired with boys and female teachers are paired with girls as mentors. "They go on field trips, there are weekend activities and they have formed book clubs. There are also group discussions about issues facing these students," said Troutman.
Monthly, the school recognizes all students for attendance, integrity, and service and even gives out prizes like pizza parties and trips. (Sara Doar, January 2009)
SEPTEMBER 2006 UPDATE: Dr. Linda Patterson, founding principal of Bergen Upper, retired in June 2006. Her successor is Marissa Burson-Flateau, a graduate of the Leadership Academy, a training program for aspiring principals, and most recently principal at IS 33 in District 14.
2004 REVIEW: Bergen Upper was a scant few months old when we visited. Still, it seemed well-established, perhaps because founding principal Dr. Linda Patterson knows the building and its population well, having been principal of PS 9, the elementary school downstairs.
With her calm demeanor Patterson reigns over what could be a rambunctious group of adolescents. Somehow they're not. A look or a firm remark from the principal is enough to bring kids back in line. Like its neighbor downstairs, Upper Bergen is something of a hybrid; it has a progressive approach to teaching and curriculum, but an old-fashioned dress code. (This is something parents asked for, the principal said, when they came with their children for interviews). Kids dress in white shirts and black bottoms with Dr. Patterson setting an elegant example in a tailored black suit and heels. Friday is "dress-down" day, when kids participate in clubs such as film criticism sculpture, chess, and arts.
Rather than a traditional junior high set-up with children changing classes every 43 minutes, the school schedule keeps kids in the same class for one-and-a-half hours for core subjects. One teacher teaches English and social studies called "humanities" here and another teaches math and science. That diminishes wasted time and movement in the hallways, Patterson said.
On our visit, students were still buzzing about a recent trip the entire school along with about 30 parents took to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, where a colonial town has been recreated. Students, who were creating a mural for the hallway, discussed how they learned the crafts of making cloth and nails and were especially impressed by the old-fashioned schoolhouse where kids of all ages used to study together. Digital photos posted on bulletin boards showed boys at the spinning wheel. "This made the colonial curriculum come alive," said the principal. "The trips are motivating to the teachers as well," and will be an integral part of the curriculum, she said.
A few teachers moved to Upper Bergen from downstairs, but the staff is mostly new and untried. Several of them are "teaching fellows" from the city Department of Education program that trains recent graduates and second-career professionals to be teachers. Several classrooms especially the humanities rooms - were especially inviting, with colorful cushions on the floor, shelves lined with many books and projects posted. Kids are responsible for putting their classes' work on the hallway bulletin boards. The staff, which stays late and works together, seems enthusiastic, although a few teachers were still struggling with classroom management.
Teachers have high expectations for the kids. Except for a few who were placed in the school by Region 8, most of the students scored at grade level or above (levels 3 and 4) on standardized exams. A math teacher, disappointed with her students' results on an exam, sent home a three-page, single-spaced letter giving parents study tips and ideas on how to help their kids. We saw a wide range of abilities in the building: some 7th graders in a small class for students in special education, were still learning how to multiply single digit numbers and struggling to read easy words. In essays posted throughout the school we saw several examples of subject and verb disagreement such as "she have." Still we were impressed with the amount of writing we saw and the variety of books available in the classrooms.
As a new school, Bergen Upper hasn't yet accumulated a lot of necessary equipment. For example, there are no science labs or audio-visual equipment, and the school is short on technology. This should change as the school grows. Bergen Upper shares the cafeteria, gym, auditorium, and huge schoolyard with PS 9. The schools have a joint PTA but a separate School Leadership Teams.
Admissions: Selective with most students scoring either a "3" or "4" on standardized exams in English. Students are interviewed in the spring, with their parents present, and are given a written exam. In its first year, about one-third of the students came from PS 9.
Special education: There is one class on each grade for students in special education. The plan is to have a team-taught class in the 6th grade, beginning in September 2005.
After-school: Recreational activities and tutoring are available three days a week until 4:45 p.m. There is also an independent studies class for which students answer a research question and write a report. (Pamela Wheaton, December 2004)