P.S. 279 Captain Manuel Rivera, Jr.
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Emphasis on individual attention
Lagging academic achievement
A fairly large kindergarten to 8th grade school, PS/MS 279 Captain Manuel Rivera, Jr. works hard to provide students in the Fordham section of the Bronx with academic and social supports in a nurturing environment. To accomplish this, the school has added team-teaching class and extra time in the day for individualized instruction and help. Small group work is key.
The children seem to appreciate the effort. In a Department of Education survey, an unusually large percentage of middle school students said teachers give them individual attention and help with academics and personal issues. Overall, students and teachers see the school as safe and supportive.
PS/MS 279 offers a number of activities beyond the typical academics, including chess, theater and sports. Other school programs stress community service and empowering students, including one in which struggling students are trained to tutor younger children. Parents may attend a 10-week program aimed at helping them help their children, given through a collaboration with the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, and an after-school science program for students and their parents.
The school has a high percentage of English language learners, almost all of them Spanish-speaking, and offers English as a New Language and Transitional Bilingual Education in Spanish. Its arts program is centered around music and includes choir, band and instrumental lessons. Partnerships with Community Word and the Apollo Theater stress student expression and collaboration.
Despite its strengths, PS/MS 279 struggles with low test scores. In an effort to make its program more demanding, the school is renewing its emphasis on small group work and emphasizing literacy in all subject areas.
ADMISSIONS: For kindergarten, priority goes to children who live in the zone or have siblings in the area but anyone is welcome to apply. For middle school, MS 279 gives priority to students who attended the elementary school or who live in the school zone. It does not fill all of its seats. (Gail Robinson, from DOE reports, June 2020)