School For Global Leaders
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Small middle school with biannual community service projects
Institutional-looking building shared with high schools
School for Global Leaders is a small middle school that encourages students to help their community with twice-a-year projects that bring the entire school together for a week of public service. In keeping with the school's theme, students get extra exposure to the world beyond school walls with lots of museum trips.
Founding principal Carry Chan is friendly and full of enthusiasm for her school and students, but she has a no-nonsense side, as well. School for Global Leaders has strict rules that require students to maintain an orderly environment despite being surrounded by high school students who have looser rules. Its very structured here. Students wear uniforms Chan said, adding that her middle school students are always supervised, especially in shared spaces, and not allowed to wear hats or use headphones during school. Kids need structure, she said, adding that, because of the rules, School for Global Leaders is "very similar to a charter school."
Housed in a boxy, Lower East Side building shared with two high schools schools - Marta Valle and LES Prep - School for Global Leaders graduates 8th graders who go on to some of the citys top high schools, said Chan. Graduates have gone on to Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, LaGuardia, Bard, Millennium and Pace high schools, said Chan. Over 90% of our students get into their top three high school choices, she said.
Few School for Global Leaders students go on to attend the high schools in the building, said Chan. LES Prep is a transfer school, where older high school students go looking for a second chance to earn their diplomas and Marta Valle has been plagued with a bad reputation for years. Even though Marte Valle has improved recently, the school building still looks a tad foreboding from the outside, with the windows and parking lot shrouded in chain link fencing. But dont let the exterior fool you -- inside, the middle school has bright, student-painted murals and a state-of-the-art science lab.
The school is unscreened and many students arrive at the school with special needs. More than one in five students receive special education services. School for Global Leaders tries to cater to more advanced students as well as those who need some extra help. Accelerated students have book clubs for more advanced reading and 8th graders can take the algebra Regents exam to get a boost for high school. Students can also take a foreign language class, and as of 2016 the school offers a Chinese-English dual language program. School for Global Leaders is small but Chan works hard to secure funding for music and art programs so her students are exposed to a variety of arts and, in 2012, School for Global Leaders won a half million dollar Matisse Foundation grant that will provide the school with a full-time art teacher for at least five years.
Special Education: School for Global Leaders has ICT classes, with two teachers, one certified in special education. It also offers self-contained classes and SETSS (special education teacher support services).
(Anna Schneider, interview and web reports, September 2013.)
[Video and images courtesy of the school, see their Vimeo channel for more.]