M.S. 246 Walt Whitman

Phone: (718) 282-5230
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Wheelchair accessible
Neighborhood: Flatbush
District: 17
Grade range: 06 thru 08
Parent coordinator: SUZE VIXAMAR

What's special:

Television studio with sophisticated equipment.

The downside:

Low test scores.

The InsideStats



Our review

SEPTEMBER 2009 UPDATE: Fahari Academy Charter School has opened in the building that houses MS 246.

MARCH 2006 REVIEW: Catch them at the wrong time of day, and a visitor might get the impression that the students of MS 246 have too much sugar in their diet. Take the day of our visit, for example, a snowy day when the children could not go out for recess; kids with pent up energy were running around and behaving boisterously in the hallways during lunch. But there were serious moments during the day, too, and for the most part, students were attentive and engaged in class, benefiting from teachers who were devoted to their occupation and the children.

This is a school that has faced considerable struggles in recent years, including poor scores on state and city standardized tests, discipline problems, and a revolving door of principals. In 2005, Principal Bentley Warrington came on board, just in time to help plan the school's reorganization. With funding from a federal education-reform grant, MS 246 is to be re-structured into three small academies beginning in fall 2006. One or more of the academies may emphasize a particular topicart, for exampleto build on the school's current strengths. Teachers remain hopeful, despite anxiety about the standardized tests, and indicate that scores are improving gradually. Warrington said his first challenge in his new job was getting everyone to trust that he would stick around. He added that he has had some initial success in bringing a quieter tone to the building.

Some kids choose to take advantage of the school's special offerings, such as a band that participates in music festivals and an impressive sound-proof television studio where students may produce and edit footage with professional cameras and equipment. These students are also entrusted with such responsibilities as running the lighting and sound booth in the auditorium and taping school events including talent shows.

Technology is important to the life of the school, especially to the arts curriculum. Students may learn how to play keyboards connected to computers that track their progress. The school is upgrading its older computer labs and purchasing laptops. Arts teachers who have been at the school for a while say they are provided with the materials and supplies they need.

In academic subjects, a traditional tone pervades classrooms; students wear uniforms, and teachers raise their voices when kids get too loud. Sixth and 7th graders remain in the same classrooms, rather than traveling for different subjects; the teachers come to them. There school also offers a special track for students who have achieve high scores3s or 4son city and state exams.

There are many immigrant children at the school, which provides both English language instruction and bilingual classes in Haitian Creole and Spanish.

Special education: The school has both "self-contained" (children with special needs only) and "inclusion" classes, where special education and general education students learn together.

After school: Two community organizations, Brooklyn Bureau Community Services and Vacamas, run programs in the building. MS 246 also offers sports, arts, and tutoring. (Catherine Man, March 2006)

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