South Bronx Preparatory: A College Board School
Bronx NY 10454
A small, supportive school; special ed students learn to take charge of disabilities in order to progress academically
Low parent engagement, kids not exposed to college prep until 11th grade
South Bronx Preparatory: A College Board School, founded in 2004 to replace the unruly junior high school MS 149, has managed to change both behavior and expectations for students in its community.
Located a short walk from the high traffic shopping Hub, South Bronx Prep provides refuge in a historically depressed and socially stressed neighborhood. The school shares a building with MS 223, inhabiting the first floor and part of the second. Both principals describe their working relationship as excellent and administrators commonly share resources.
South Bronx Prep provides a supportive environment for students, most of whom come from three nearby housing projects. Many students enter needing special services and are performing below grade level. The schools efforts with these children are particularly noteworthy. On the day of our visit a number of students introduced themselves and their paraprofessionals (classroom aides) without embarrassment. We teach them to embrace who they are right now and work as hard as they can. No shame, says Principal Ellen Flanagan. With support and encouragement, most middle school self-contained students transition to integrated classes by 9th grade.
The school focuses on social-emotional growth first, followed by academics. Many times during our visit, Flanagan and other staffers stopped students, and in a caring tone, inquired about their mood or followed up on a previous issue. Students stay with the same advisory teacher all four years of high school. Advisors know their students well, offering support, challenging them when necessary and sometimes just making a helpful phone call to remind a student to bring in his gym shorts. One student says, They dont let you drown here. They dont hold your hand all the way, but [they] help you do what you never thought you could do.
In all classes there are anywhere from two to three adults and class size is reduced. Teachers separate students into groups based on learning styles and encourage children to depend on each other as they learn. On the day of our visit, a biology class experimented to understand the difference between how infectious and non-infectious diseases are spread, dipping ph strips into cups of water that looked identical to the eye. In English language arts, students were reading Hamlet, but had an original version and a translated version. Their task was to put the text into their own words to show comprehension. In one 9th-grade integrated algebra class, a student confessed that he had trouble with radicals, but with support from the group, he was able to grasp the concept.
The consistent limitation we saw across all subject areas was the students inability to use expressive language. Whether a student was trying to explain why a math problem was solved correctly or to support an idea she had just read about, language was limited. Principal Flanagan says that getting kids to articulate their thoughts in words is a constant struggle given the school's large English language learner and special needs population. To help, the school encourages teachers to stay with a unit until the children have fully digested the material.
The high school offers advanced placement courses in English, biology, Spanish literature and psychology. Students can take up to two advanced placement courses, although the percentage of students passing the AP exam is very low. The school is affiliated with the College Board which provides trips to colleges, but the 6-12 school doesnt provide direct college contact and preparation until spring of 11th grade. The teaching staff and a college advisor are on hand to help guide students through the process, but the idea is to hold a student's hand until he can navigate the system himself and develop the independent skills he will need as a college student.
Outside of academics, there are boys and girls basketball teams, but no other team sports. Students also participate in test readiness classes, periodic drama performances, fitness in a state-of-the-art workout room and yoga classes. Students also attend Club Getaway, where they spend two to three days off-campus doing trust exercises, to help build school spirit and unity. Mount Sinai runs a mental health clinic in the building.
College: Most students are the first in their families considering college. Parents cant assist them, and historically the school has had low parental involvement. The College Board mission is to take minorities that wouldn't have access to college and open up awareness and opportunity. College acceptances are mostly to CUNY and SUNY schools but also include private schools like Emmanuel College in Boston and Rutgers University.
Special education: There are integrated co-teaching classes and self-contained classes in the middle school. Over twenty percent of the population receives special education services. The principal said she is proud of the large number of special needs students who passed the Regents exams. About 6 percent of the students are English language learners and perform better than average school on ELA exam.
Admissions: Priority to District 7 students for middle school, and a large percentage stay on for high school. For high school, priority to continuing 8th-graders, then to students who attend an information session, then to Bronx residents, then New York City residents.(Jacquie Wayans, February 2014)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
Are students prepared for high school?
How many graduate?
Are students prepared for college?
How does this school serve English Language Learners?
How does this school serve students with disabilities?
Programs and Admissions
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English, AP Psychology, AP US Government and Politics
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Outdoor Track, Soccer
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Handball, Outdoor Track, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball