I.S. 318 Eugenio Maria De Hostos
Brooklyn NY 11206
Academic support for students of all abilities, strong sports and chess teams
May be too traditional for some
IS 318 achieved a level of renown unusual for a public middle school when its championship chess team starred in the 2012 documentary film Brooklyn Castle. Beyond its winning chess and basketball teams, IS 318 is a well-run, fairly traditional school that strives to serve children of all abilities not just the gifted.
"We'll take a student reading at a [1st-grade] level and by the time they graduate they'll, at worst, be one year behind," says Principal Leander Windley, who has been with the school for twenty years, first as a basketball coach and teacher of robotics and then as assistant principal. He took charge in 2012 after Fred Rubino, a longtime beloved leader, left to become superintendent of District 14 and died shortly after.
A former engineer, Windley takes a particular interest in technology training. The school has a STEM class for 7th-graders focusing on robotics and hopes to expand it to all grades and bring in many aspects of engineering as well as programming.
Children are grouped by ability starting in 6th grade. About 40 percent are in gifted classes for all major subjects. While some students are placed upon entering, most are admitted later on the basis of their work. Many of them will take several Regents exams, including the living environment and Earth science tests. Instruction is well-organized if somewhat old-fashioned, with desks in rows and teachers often standing at the blackboard.
We saw some strong teaching and high levels of enthusiasm among the students. In a 6th-grade English class for children who need extra help, the teacher gently coaxed a shy girl into reading aloud a passage about chocolate in the Unites States, and she ended up doing very well. In a 7th-grade gifted science class, the teacher led a spirited discussion of what bile does. Students quickly formed small groups to read articles and report back on stomach disorders.
However, in a few rooms we visited, the energy was low and students seemed a bit bored, but never disruptive.
The staff believes a range of activities, such as sports and chess, will encourage children to come to school and be engaged. Students take a so-called SHOP class, such as art and band, three times a week. Another option cooking allows students to use the school's well-stocked kitchen and six ovens to make treats like pretzels and oatmeal cookies.
In the most recent Learning Environment Survey, more than 95 percent of parents said they were satisfied or very satisfied. Teachers almost unanimously recommend the school, and students say classes and programs keep them interested. The UFT chapter leader says there is a good sense of collaboration in the building. "If its going to help the kids, adults are 100 percent on board with it.
Students go on to a variety of high schools with many attending academically advanced programs. Choices include the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, Williamsburg Preparatory School, La Guardia High School and the High School of Fashion Industries.
Special education: IS 318 provides a range of settings: self-contained classes where students have a different teacher for each subject; self-contained classes for students with intellectual disabilities where one teacher covers the full day of instruction; support services to students in regular classes; and Integrated Co-Teaching classes combining general education students with those with disabilities.
Admissions: IS 318 is open to children in District 14. In recent years, it has received more than 1,000 applications for 500 6th-grade spots. Students are not picked for their test scores, but for their commitment to work hard, based partly on teacher recommendation and grades. "We're not a school that's going to shy away from taking kids," Dean Pam Curcio says. (Gail Robinson, April 2014)