I.S. 252 Arthur Somers School
MAY 2007 UPDATE: IS 252 is in the process of being phased out and is no longer accepting new students. It will graduate its last class of 8th graders in 2009. Two middle schools opening in the fall of 2007 -- Kings Collegiate Charter School and the Middle School for Art and Philosophy -- will be located in the IS 252 building.
JUNE 2004 PROFILE: IS 252 in East Flatbush has a reputation among neighborhood parents as a troubled school. Indeed, even though its test scores improved enough to warrant the school's removal from the state list of failing schools in January 2004, IS 252 is a place that cries out for change. On the day of our visit, we saw students streaming into the building well after the 8:20 a.m. start of school, and others brazenly cutting class and lounging in the hallways.
While we met some teachers and staff members truly dedicated to the school, we observed others who were clearly frustrated by their jobs, among them the school employee who got into a shouting match with an irate parent.
Some staffers we spoke with said that they wanted to help build student loyalty to the school and create a positive climate. Plans to bring more community-based organizations into the school, as well as to bolster parent involvement through the Learning Leaders parent-volunteer program are some first steps. In addition, the school plans to introduce a new scanning/ID system in fall 2004, to keep better track of students, and diminish lateness and truancy.
Some people we met said they were happy at the school. A teacher, who said she liked teaching at IS 252, told us that she felt she had a lot of support from her assistant principal and that discipline was not a problem in her classroom. She said she sometimes visits other classrooms to help colleagues with classroom management. A student who was cutting gym class said that she nonetheless liked IS 252 better than her former school because "they teach more here." A parent volunteer said that the school would benefit from greater parent and community involvement, and acknowledged that student behavior can be a problem. Still, he added, "These aren't bad kids."
A few highlights: the school houses a federally-funded Safe Schools/Healthy Students program that pays for the school's very dedicated staff social worker. He mentioned that the school benefits from being in a community with "a vibrant Caribbean culture," which has led, for example, to the creation of IS 252's steel drum band. In addition, the school's parent coordinator has helped introduce some new programs to students, including a club for women and minorities interested in math, science and engineering. (Deborah Apsel, June 2004)