I.S. 5 The Walter Crowley Intermediate School
Clean, modern building with student-run TV studio
IS 5 is a large, diverse school of 1,500 students with classes of 30 students at most. The school occupies a state-of-the-art building equipped with a television-production studio, two cafeterias, music and dance studios, a beautiful library, and well-stocked science labs, and a SMARTboard in every classroom. Principal Michael Dantona, who took over the school in 2009, says that worries about overcrowding have receded, as school enrollment has fallen by 100. [Kelly Nepogoda, fomer assistant principal, became interim acting principal in January 2014.]
In 2010, Dantona started an optional month-long summer school for incoming 6th graders, who come four days a week to take classes in English language arts, math, science, and social studies. Students are placed into one of three academies: science and technology; media and art; and law and humanities. Dantona says that all students work from the same curriculum, but courses are differentiated so that honors classes are more challenging while special education classes are suited to students needs.
Overall, academics are strong and well rounded, and many students (50 in 2011) are accepted into the selective high schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. Teachers try not to use textbooks, focusing instead on group projects that give students a chance to help each other. From our observation of a wide variety of classes, we found the teaching to be engaging and the students remarkably attentive and interested. We watched 6th graders give presentations of their science projects and were impressed with both the projects and the kinds of questions their classmates asked.
Dantona says the schools major challenge is ensuring that its English language learners (ELLs) make progress. Almost a third of the students are ELLs with varied levels of abilities in English: students having just moved to the U.S. have only basic skills; others are ready to advance to regular classrooms. Dantona says that he and his staff are always looking for ways to improve instruction for ELLs, such as taking courses on how to teach using juicy sentences, or sentences that require students to learn complex language rather than just translating simplified sentences. IS 5 also offers extra classes on Saturday, which are attended by some 200 students.
IS 5 offers a wealth of electives and after-school clubs and activities, including sports, chess, drama, dance, a literary magazine, homework assistance, opera club (students get to go to Broadway to watch the dress rehearsal for an opera), the school website, and the television club, which produces the next mornings announcements in the form of a news show.
Special Education: IS 5 offers both self-contained and integrated co-teaching classes. The school shares a building with a District 75 school. The building is handicap accessible.
Admissions: IS 5 is a zoned school and a choice middle school. Most students come from neighborhood elementary schools, but the school has some slots every year for admissions through a lottery. (Tom Jacobs, April 2011)
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Queens NY 11373