Hebrew Language Academy Charter School

Grades K-7
Staff Pick
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Location

2186 Mill Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11234
Midwood (District 22)

Contact

Phone
718-377-7200
Principal
Peter Katcher

What’s Special

Children learn Hebrew; emphasis on science; diverse staff and student body

The Downside

Not near the subway

Our Review

The Hebrew Language Academy Charter School (HLA)which offers daily lessons in modern Hebrewis a calm and friendly school. Perhaps surprisingly, the school is ethnically mixed and teachers, too, represent all different ethnicities and religions.

As a publicly financed charter school, HLA is a secular organization that is not affiliated with Judaism. Children do not study religion or learn Jewish prayers, but they do learn Israeli dances and songs in Hebrew. Students study the history and culture of Israel, but they also study other cultures and have a strong grounding in American history and government.

The school was founded in 2009 with the backing of Michael H. Steinhardt, a retired hedge fund manager and philanthropist who is a strong supporter of Israel and Jewish causes. His daughter, Sara Berman is the chairman of the schools board of directors.

Classrooms are cheery spaces, nicely decorated with plenty of books and supplies; elementary grade rooms have colorful rugs where children gather for lessons. In classes we visited, there were two or three adults on hand to work with children one-on-one or in small groups of students. For instance, during 4th grade math instruction, four teachers work with three classes of students who are broken up into groups by skill level. The school has two literacy specialists who work individually with children needing extra support.

Instruction is a blend of class-wide, group and independent work. Students may read and discuss books or solve math problems together. Older students may research and write on their own, but collaborate for in-depth projects such as 7th-graders working in groups to compile booklets and elaborate charts demonstrating their grasp of rational numbers.

Hebrew is taught in all grades for one period each day and, similar to math instruction, teachers divide children up into small groups so kids can learn at their own pace. For instance, students who transfer to HLA in, say, 3rd or 6th grade with no prior exposure to Hebrew dont feel behind in lessons. Instead they learn with other beginners of a similar age. Likewise, those who advance quickly are grouped with other fast learners. All other subjects are taught in English.

Spanish is taught beginning in the 7th grade.

In addition to daily science in all grades, elementary school students take a weekly STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) class, which emphasizes hands-on projects such as building and experiments. Middle school students raise trout in the science room and have a weekly lab period. All students visit the New York Hall of Science to do fun projects in their Maker Space.

Students also take art, music, and gym. Through a partnership with Playworks, middle school students are trained to help out during the elementary school recess. Theres a large stash of Rubiks Cubes on hand for students to play with during lunch.

Tucked in a way on an industrial lot, HLA is housed in a former factory building that was renovated into a sleek, contemporary facility with high ceilings, wide hallways, a gymnasium and an outdoor space for recess. It is not located near any subway lines, but there are several bus stops within a few blocks of the school.

After-school activities such as sports, chorus and chess run onsite until 4: 30 pm. The Kings Bay YM-YWHA runs extended time activities through 6 pm for a fee.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is an ICT class on each grade. The school employs two social workers: one serving the lower and the other the upper grades.

ADMISSIONS: Priority to residents of District 22 and siblings of current students. The school accepts applications for students entering kindergarten though 6th grade. (Laura Zingmond, November 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
628
Asian
1.3%
Black
41.7%
Hispanic
3.2%
White
51.6%
Other
2.2%
Free or reduced priced lunch
61%
Students with disabilities
18%
English language learners
7%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
94%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
21%
19% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
68%
75% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
50%
25% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
83%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
90%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
29%
46% Citywide Average

About the leadership

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
78%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
88%
86% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
76%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
73%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
88%
85% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
83%
59% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
69%
79% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
90%
84% 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?
54%
39% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
42%
40% Citywide Average

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
58%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
55%
55% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
51%
70% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

Average math score for self-contained students
2.32
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.08
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
3.95
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.36
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
60%
69% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
81%
84% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
84%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
81%
87% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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