M.S. 223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology
Computers for all, college trips, research projects
Recruiting teachers is a challenge
The Laboratory School for Finance and Technology, MS/HS 223, has a dynamic administration, energetic teachers, lively kids, and lots of research projects and class trips. Each teen is assigned a computer for use at home and schooland the whole family gets training in its use.
Students tackle multi-step research papers and take yearly overnight trips that combine college visits and tours of historic sites. The school has a strong English and Spanish dual language program.
The academic offerings are smart. For example, kids tend to stick with math throughout their high school years because there are several pathways for all skill levels. All students attend five technology classes per week, where they study coding, web design, robotics and more. They visit Google offices, Buzzfeed and the Maker Fair, to name a few field trips.
There are coaches in every academic subject to help teachers design effective lessons. Children study about 400 extra hours per year. They get extra help in reading in one of three programs geared towards low, middle and high abilities. Every class has at least two adults. Keeping that student-teacher ration small is really important to us, said assistant principal Ashley Downs.
Founding principal Ramon Gonzalez, who grew up in Harlem, attended a gifted and talented program as a kid and went on to win a scholarship to Cornell University. He is determined to offer the children of the South Bronx the same educational opportunities that allowed him to rise from poverty.
Opened with a 6th grade in 2003, the school expanded to include high school grades in 2013 in hopes of offering continuity and better preparation for college.
In 2015 the school joined a consortium of New York State schools[http://performanceassessment.org/index.html] that does not require Regents exams, except in English. Instead, children take on reading and writing projects called Performance Based Assessment Tasks (PBATs), which are like mini dissertations, the principal said. Students must complete four of these tasks in the 12th grade to graduate, in English, math, social studies and science.
Middle school children do so-called prePBATs to get used to the reading, writing and speaking skills needed for high school tasks. We saw 7th graders consult notes they had compiled from reading articles together in class. As she typed up her notes, a child new to prePBATs, said, I already did the outline and now Im putting it in paragraph form. Its more work, but its easier. Ninth graders design their own experiments: one group visited Trinity Church cemetery in lower Manhattan to measure the effects of acid rain on tombstones.
Middle school children stay until 4:45 pm for various activities and academics. Two hundred attend a free summer program. High school students can make up credits after school, participate in sports or join one of the schools six bands. About one-fourth of the eighty 12th graders work with a teacher to prepare for the Advanced Placement computer science exam after school.
Recruiting teachers can be a challenge. Parking is scarce and a consortium school requires teachers to work heavily in teams, which has caused pushback among some staff, the principal said. Still, close to a dozen former teachers have gone on to become principals elsewhere, which makes Gonzalez proud. Thats the way we get to influence the system, he said.
In addition to typical sports, children can try out unusual ones such as squash, or Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art combining dance and acrobatics. We want to provide kids with as many experiences as possible so they can compete, Gonzalez said.
The college office is robust, and there are eight guidance counselors on staff, one for every grade. The school, with a first graduating class in 2017, is still new, so it is not well known among college recruiters, a staffer said.
The building is shared with South Bronx Prep.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Special education teachers receive extra training in one subject area, such as science, so they can be full academic co-teachers.
ADMISSIONS: District 7 choice for middle school, by lottery. About 700 apply for 45 seats; roughly 300 apply for 22 seats in the Spanish dual language program, which is screened. More than half the 8th graders continue in the high school. In high school, the dual language program screens for Spanish proficiency, otherwise, it is limited unscreened with priority to those who show interest at a fair or open house. (Lydie Raschka, March 2017)
About the students
About the school
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About the leadership
About the teachers
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How many graduate?
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Programs and Admissions
The vision of this program is to educate our students to become bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural in this ever-increasing global society. Our students will achieve academic excellence in two languages while attaining a multicultural understanding and appreciation for the different cultures represented in our program and in our world.
All students have the opportunity to specialize in either computer science or personal finance and entrepreneurship. Both courses of study culminate in college or career accreditation and opportunities for job shadows and internships.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Spanish
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Soccer
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Handball, Outdoor Track, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball
Bronx NY 10454
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
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Bronx, NY 10454