East Harlem Scholars Academy Charter School
Manhattan NY 10029
Structured school with extended day and longer school year
Future home is not yet built
East Harlem Scholars Academy combines an extra-long school day--and a longer school year--with highly structured routines and lots of personal attention from teachers. Spanish, music and physical education are offered each day.
By the 5th grade, our students will be able to speak Spanish, play an instrument and be extremely healthy, jokes Principal Cheyenne Batista Sao Roque. (The Brazilian last name is pronounced soun HAWKee and rhymes with down rocky.)
Founded in 2011, this charter school plans to add a grade each year until it serves K-5 and, if space permits, K-8. Breakfast is served at 7:30 a.m. At 8 a.m., everyone reads for an 11-minute block in a ritual known as D.E.A.R Drop Everything And Read. Classes continue until 4 p.m. The school year is 195 days, compared to 180 days for a typical public school.
East Harlem Scholars Academy is housed in the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex, In its first year, it shared the fourth floor with a middle school JHS 13 Jackie Robinson and some maneuvering was required to keep younger kids separated from the older (and sometimes loud or profane) junior high students.
The school is raising funds to build a permanent home on Second Avenue and 105th Street, next door to the offices of East Harlem Tutorial Program, the nonprofit foundation devoted to K-12 after-school tutoring that oversees the charter school.
In its current home, students enjoy bright, sunny classrooms equipped with computerized projector boards. Each class has two full-time teachers. Additional faculty include full-time specialists for music, gym, Spanish, reading and English fluency. The day begins with a healthy breakfast in the classroom (parents are allowed to attend), after which a highly structured daily schedule often breaks classes into small groups for more individualized attention. Students wear uniforms typically a royal blue polo shirt, black shoes and tan pants or skirt.
Student behavior is monitored using color-coded sticks that range from red (bad) to blue (good). When the kids go home, the first question the parents will ask is, What color are you on? Sao Roque said. When we visited on a scorching day near the end of its first year, the kindergartners and 1st-graders appeared polite, attentive and interested in their studies. Evidence of solid progress in the early grades included posted examples of student work and eager attention to spelling worksheets. Parents are given the cell phone numbers of all faculty, who must be available until 8 p.m. and are required to return calls within 24 hours.
Special education: Two teachers in each class allows faculty to spend more time with students with special needs. Additionally, the school has specialists in speech and occupational therapy, as well as a social worker.
English language learners: In 2012, about 15 percent of students were not fluent in English. ELL students get regular language instruction from support staff, often inside their classroom at times when students break up into small groups.
Admissions: Students are chosen by lottery, usually conducted in late March or April. Open houses are held in February and March. Siblings of enrolled students are guaranteed admission. Preference is given to students living in East Harlem. In its first lottery, the school has 400 applications for 54 seats. (Skip Card, May 2012)