Urban Scholars Community School
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English/Spanish dual language program
Some students miss at least a month of school
Founded in 2009, Urban Scholars Community School has made great strides after a period of struggle, including time spent on a list of lowest-performing schools in the city, a status lifted in 2018. Teachers overwhelmingly say the school is safe and orderly, and recommend it to new families, according to NYC school surveys. Parents also awarded high marks to the principal and staff for building trusting relationships with families. The school offers a dual language program in English and Spanish, designed to make children fluent speakers, readers and writers in both languages.
The school faces challenges. Urban Scholars is located in Morrisania, among the poorest neighborhoods in the United States; more than 50 percent of children live below the federal poverty line. More than one-third of the student population lives in temporary housing, according to the Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP).
“There is so much trauma in our community. We try to cushion the blows,” said Principal Debra Jones in a video produced by the Department of Education. The support includes a warm welcome during which teachers check in and ask kids how they feel each day. The school has an additional social worker and two family advocates to assist teachers. It partners with East Side House Settlement, whose staff helps boost attendance and works with kids who struggle academically.
Workshops for parents range from “How to help your child with homework” to “How to create a pillow out of a t-shirt.” The school’s visual arts teacher holds workshops for parents twice a month.
The school continues to make strides to improve instruction. Teachers work with coaches to design effective reading and math lessons. Children are encouraged to discuss their ideas and to talk more in class. Children who lag in reading follow research-supported programs called Reading Recovery in grade 1 and Reading Rescue in grade 2.
Parents and children come together in the Cookshop program to prepare and eat nutritious meals. Grades 2 to 5 participate in weekly clubs such as jewelry making, soccer, art, yoga and basketball. The upper grades may stay after school for dance, chorus, drama and hip hop poetry programs three times a week until 5:15 pm. All children get extra reading, writing and math help five extra hours a week in the expanded learning program.
High-achievers who score well on tests are placed in the honor roll scholars program. An Eagle Boys Club meets twice a month for older boys on Saturdays. They participate in sports and service learning projects and take trips to the movies, the Botanical Gardens or Yankee stadium.
One on-going struggle is attendance. All students are assigned a “success mentor” who pinpoints and tries to help families address the challenges each child faces in getting to school, for example, a lack of warm clothing, asthma-related illness or lack of food, according to the CEP.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, September 2019; photo from @NYCSchools on Twitter)Read more