Excellence Boys Uncommon Charter School
Brooklyn NY 11233
Prep-school feel, top-notch facility, and focus on character-building.
Strict atmosphere may not be for everyone.
Excellence Boys is a disciplined, orderly community where young boys in ties are referred to as scholars and hard work is expected. Students have an extended day from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., a longer school year, small class-sizes, and daily homework.
The school, part of the Uncommon Schools network, also offers after school tutoring, a Saturday Tutoring Academy, and summer remediation, according to the schools website. With two teachers in many of the classrooms and an extensive intervention program, students receive considerable personal attention but are reminded often that the community is valued above the individual.
Building reading and math skills are at the heart of the Excellence curriculum. Every boy in kindergarten through fourth grade has at least three periods of language arts instruction and math class each day, as well as social studies and science. The middle school students have 55-minute periods each day dedicated to core subjects, including reading, writing, math problem solving, math procedures, history, and science, according to the school website.
Every minute of the day is spent in structured learning, with no play time or recess. Students receive daily physical education and study either the violin or piano. Boys spend the first few weeks of the year learning the school's rules and procedures, which include silence in the hallways, a strict uniform policy, and some classrooms with a time out corner called "the bench," where students follow posted instructions on how to calm down.
For some, the strict atmosphere is a blessing. It seems to be working excellently with my child, Karen Austin, a mother of an 8th grade boy who has been at the school since kindergarten, told a local news station.The teachers are really working hard to raise a different kind of boy in our community, she said.
The strict atmosphere does not seem to be for everyone, though. Seventy percent of middle school students say discipline at the school is unfair, and 50 percent say the teachers do not treat students with respect, according to the 2015-16 school survey. Seventy percent of teachers say they would want to work at another school, according to the survey.
Some parents complained the schools strict Scoreboard Behavioral System treats students who misbehave like prisoners, according to a local news station. Misbehaving students eat meals in a separate room, are ordered to wear a green polo shirt instead of the usual uniform, and cannot interact with the other students, according to the article.
The administration says the discipline is part of what makes the school successful. "We have a college prep school and everything we do here is about getting students ready for college," Head of School Samantha Tweedy told the news station. "The discipline is helping students get back on track and focus on learning." She told the local news station the behavioral program is moving in the right direction, and tweaks are being made along the way.
The school is located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in an 1890 building that was abandoned in the 1970s after a major fire. It sat empty and decaying for decades, but was meticulously restored by Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, Robert Stern in 2006. The building is now one of the premier school facilities in the city, featuring a wood-paneled library with 10,000 books, a college-sized gym with a climbing wall and fold-out bleachers, and an auditorium with tiered seating for 500 people.
The building is so impressive, that when then-Chancellor Joel Klein toured it on the first day of school in September 2008, the New York Times wrote that the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, "cornered" the chancellor and "a bit testily" asked, "Why can't our public schools have a place like this? Do you know the resources it takes for a place like this? Maybe the difference is very high-powered, wealthy, and well-connected board of trustees the school has, as well as generous foundation support."
Grade K-8 are housed at Excellence Boys at 239 Patchen Avenue. Most students continue at Uncommon Charter High School in Crown Heights. A few go to boarding schools.
Tweedy holds a B.A. in Developmental Psychology from Duke University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Prior to joining Excellence Boys, Ms. Tweedy was the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Excellence Girls.Prior to that, Tweedy served as the Interim Program Director of the Summer Teaching Fellows Program.
Prior to joining Excellence Boys, Elementary Principal Kevin Hall was the Assistant Principal at Harlem Link Charter School.Middle School Principal David Berlin was a Fourth Grade Teacher at PS 135 in Brooklyn.
Special Education: The school has a learning support coordinator who meets with students individually and in small groups.
Admissions: City-wide lottery for kindergarten and fifth grade, with preference given to siblings and students from District 16. Most boys begin in kindergarten. There are typically 10-15 seats available in fifth grade. The school maintains a wait list for other grades. (Annaclaire Diianni-Miller, web reports, July 2013, updated with school survey July 2017)