I.S. 98 Bay Academy
Energetic, engaging teaching
No foreign language taught.
A selective middle school located across the street from the harbor at Sheepshead Bay, Bay Academy offers strong academics with lively classes grouped by student achievement. The school has become increasingly popular since its founding in 1995, forcing it to turn away many qualified students.
Reading and vocabulary permeate all subjects, but Bay has a focus on math, and especially science, that is unusual in a city middle school. Science rooms are packed with interesting objects, students read articles about science as well as textbooks, and teachers take a hands-on approach, including many trips to science museums, zoos and the Museum of Natural History. In one classroom, students examined slides though a microscope as the teacher led them through a lively, humorous, exchange about what they were seeing. Another teacher riffed on a quiz show to help students consider the difference and similarities between different types of minerals.
Students get some life, Earth and physical science every year, going deeper as they advance through middle school. "We teach kids that science is all around you. How do you live in the world without understanding the ramifications of what's going on?" said Principal Maria Timo, a former math and science teacher.
Classes are orderly but spirited as students overall seemed eager to participate and discuss in all subjects. Seventh graders in an advanced English class reading a novel about the Sudan also considered articles on the lost boys of Sudan. One boy drew similarities between the lost boys of Sudan and Peter Pan's lost boys in that both groups had no parents and little sense of right and wrong.
Timo credits the school's emphasis on teacher training with creating the strong instruction we saw in many classrooms.
Bay students come from as many as 18 different elementary schools with a wide range of abilities and preparation. The school groups them by achievement level in English, math and science Overall the groups cover the same material.
Students who the school considers capable take the Algebra and Living Environment Regents exams in the 8th grade after they've passed the regular 8th grade curriculum. They receive additional instruction before, during and after school to prepare them and generally score well, with the average grade around 90, according to Timo.
Bay also provides extra help to struggling students during lunch periods and after school. Test prep is built into the curriculum rather than offered separately
Timo says the transition to the Common Core has not posed a big problem for Bay Academy. A key concern has been time management on the exams, so the school has begun teaching students how to pace themselves better and now times all exercises.
Bay offers 10 different talents, including athletics, science and math, as well as the arts. Generally students have three to four periods of a talent each week,
The school dropped its foreign language program, instead giving what it calls a Latin class that is really vocabulary focusing on Latin roots, suffixes and prefixes.
About a fifth of Bay Academy students go on to specialized high schools, such as Brooklyn Tech.Edward R Murrow and Midwood, particularly the Medical Science Institute, also are popular choices for Bay graduates,
Special education: Bay has a few integrated team-teaching classes mixing students with special needs with general education students, as well as a few self-contained classes.
Admission: Students must live in District 21 or an adjoining area defined by the Department of Education. All applicants must take a test in two talent areas of their choosing. (Gail Robinson, September 2013)