P.S. 138 Brooklyn
Brooklyn NY 11216
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
More than half the 8th graders earn high school credit
No lockers for middle school. Limited music and art
PS/MS 138 has a happy, spirited tone from the laughter in the main office to the joyful mayhem on the playground, where children race across the yard to embrace their beaming Haitian-born principal. For decades the school has served a primarily West Indian and African-American population; in recent years, newcomers from Yemen have also joined the community.
Enrollment has declined as rising rents have forced out working-class families and young, mostly childless professionals have moved in. As a result, the school has room for children from outside the attendance zone, particularly in 6th through 8th grade where there are three classes on each grade instead of two.
The middle school “accepts all comers,” says long-time principal Marie Chauvet-Monchik; the day we visited, two Arabic-speaking 6th graders, just arrived from Yemen, were seated at computers with programs designed to teach them English.
The majestic school building, constructed in 1902, has a large auditorium with a balcony, spotless corridors and large windows. PS/MS 138 shares the building with Success Academy Prospect Heights Charter School a K-4 school with stratospheric test scores that was the subject of a PBS News Hour report for its practice of suspending children as young as kindergarten. By contrast, school leaders at PS/MS 138 say teachers can keep order without such drastic measures. “We let children be children,’ says Chauvet-Monchik. Teachers overwhelming agree that order and discipline are maintained at PS/MS 138, according to school surveys.
Pre-kindergarten classes at PS/MS 138 buzz with the sound of kids talking and doing. The school has adopted ReadyGen, a scripted reading program, but supplements it with works of children’s literature, Chavet-Monchik said. The school has four science labs, which children visit at least twice a week. Pre-kindergartners may stay in the after school program until 5 pm.
The schools loses a few kids to Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in 6th grade, but most 5th graders stay on for middle school.
The tone of the middle school tends toward the traditional, with teachers standing at the front of the classroom offering instruction to the whole class. There are some lively class discussions and children write imaginative papers on topics such as the Haitian Revolution, women’s suffrage and Alexander Hamilton’s financial plan.
Middle school pupils are encouraged to tackle algebra, earth science and biology and to take Regents exams typically taken by high school students. More than half the children receive high school credit before they graduate.
The school offers a special class to prepare students for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). Typically, one or two students a year—of the 20 who take the class—are admitted to Brooklyn Tech. Other top students go to Benjamin Banneker, Medgar Evers, Bedford Academy, and Talent Unlimited. Graduates also attend Clara Barton, Lincoln, and Boys and Girls High School.
A drawback to the school’s small size: limited art and music offerings during the school day. Dance and drama are offered after school. There are no lockers in the middle school, so children must take their coats and backpacks from class to class.
Special education: PS/MS 138 has several team-taught, or integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes that mix special and general education students in one room, as well as several self-contained classes. Many teaching assistants sit with individual students.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. The school takes roughly 30 new students in 6th grade. (Clara Hemphill, April 2017)