M.S. 61 Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell

Grades 6-8
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Location

400 Empire Boulevard
Brooklyn NY 11225
Crown Heights (District 17)
Trains: 2, 5 to Sterling St ; 3 to Nostrand Ave
Buses: B12, B43, B44, B44-SBS, B49

Contact

Phone
718-774-1002
Principal
Dewana Daids
Parent Coordinator
Ailene Thompson

Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.

What’s Special

The school has a successful gifted program and is well regarded by its community.

The Downside

Limited arts and music

Our Review

JANUARY 2017 UPDATE: Dewana Daidsbecame inerim acting principal, replacing Dr. Shannon Burton who had come in 2013 with a PhDin Educational Administration. His doctoral research included studying secondary and middle school drop-out rates, according to the school's website at the time.

JANUARY 2012 REVIEW: At 8:15 each morning, students file in to MS 61's back door to the tune of Whitney Houston singing "I believe the children are the future_"

Principal Sandra Taylor, who has been at the school since 2008, says she plays the song not only to boost student morale but also to remind staff that they come to work each day to empower the students. The administration's and staff's commitment to MS 61 students is evident: MS 61 enjoys a solid reputation in the neighborhood and is the last large middle school in district.

Taylor worked for years as a teacher at PS 399, a feeder school for MS 61, then as an assistant principal. MS 61 is a neighborhood school, and Taylor's former students sometimes have children of their own in the school. She is no-nonsense with her middle schoolers. She often patrols the hallways to encourage order. Taylor does not tolerate ear-buds or gum-chewing and all students must wear the required uniforms.

But the principal also has a softer side. She likes to have fun with the kids when appropriate. Her office is teeming with books and open to all students. Taylor even hosts dances and monthly birthday parties for students and teachers and tea parties for the parents. Shaquana, a 6th grader who hopes to be a principal herself someday, called Taylor "the party principal."

MS 61 offers a large number of high school-level Regents courses: Spanish, algebra, US government and history, geometry and living environment. One downside is that there is no regularly scheduled art or music instruction, which Taylor attributes to budget cuts. There is a flourishing after-school program with many options including theatre, dance and arts programs. And, like other large schools, MS 61 students can participate in a variety of after-school sports ranging from boys and girls soccer and basketball teams to fencing and double-dutch.

The school is divided into three academies, each with its own floor. The Britou-Moore Academy for gifted and talented students shines brightly. The quality of work displayed on the walls is impressive and Britou-Moore students were engaged in their classes, polite and eager to learn. Taylor says she has tripled the size of the Britou-Moore Academy to over 500 6th through 8th graders and added accelerated classes to the other two academies.

Students in the Apex and World Leadership Academies were engaged in class but didn't show the same level of enthusiasm as their peers in Britou-Moore. They were generally well behaved, especially in the presence of an authority figure.

All of the school's eighth graders take the specialized high school exam and may also flex their test muscles by taking the SAT. Students who score well on the SAT may qualify to become Johns Hopkins Scholars and treated to special college-readiness programs.

We saw many parents at the school during our tour. The parent coordinator, Ailene Mitchell, helps arrange parent-child book clubs. Though most parents offered praise to the school and administration, one parent complained that teachers were inaccessible, an issue that students also reported in the 2011 Learning Environment Survey. Thirty percent of MS 61 students surveyed said they had issues with respect and with fights and bullying that year. During our tour, we did see minor roughhousing, hear a few raised voices and notice some litter around the school. But, overall, we felt comfortable and welcome at MS 61.

Special education: There are seven collaboratively taught classes and three self-contained classes. Classes for English Language Learners include a Haitian-Creole program and some ELLs are pushed into regular classes.

Admissions: MS 61 is for District 17 students only. The school has three times as many applicants as seats and zoned children get preference.Admission to Britou-Moore Academyis determined by a combination of factors making up a "composite score". The final 4th grade report card counts for 40 percent, state tests 40 percent, attendance ten percent and student performance ten percent.Contact the school for tour dates. (Anna Schneider, January 2012; updated admissions and principal January 2015)

About the students

Enrollment
915
Asian
2.1%
Black
86.9%
Hispanic
9.3%
White
1.0%
Other
0.8%
Free or reduced priced lunch
58%
Students with disabilities
18%
English language learners
6%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
62%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
92%
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
26%
20% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
79%
78% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
73%
50% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
68%
83% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
19%
43% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
3.0
6.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
97%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
98%
89% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
97%
83% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
90%
72% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
82%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
100%
87% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
18%
27% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
26%
35% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 8 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 3 licensed arts teacher in Music (part-time), Theater (part-time), and Visual arts (part-time)

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
73%
76% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
55%
61% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
69%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Spanish, Global History, US History, Algebra I, Geometry, Earth Science, Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
30%
26% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
85%
84% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Clara Barton HS, John Dewey HS, and HS for Public Service: Heroes of Tomorrow
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Haitian Creole.
How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
3% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
62%
42% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
2.12
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.22
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.93
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.07
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.19
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.33
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
55%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
92%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
91%
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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