I.S. 49 William Gaynor Intermediate School
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School no longer on the state's list of failing schools
Neighbors complain of rowdiness outside of the school
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2012: The Department of Education announced plans to move Brooklyn Latin into the building and to move Yourh Women's Leadership out for the 2013-14 school year.
UPDATE JUNE 2009: I.S. 49 William Gaynor Intermediate School closed in June 2009, after years of poor performance. The building now houses Green School: An Academy for Environmental Careers, Lyons Community School and Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn.
2004 REVIEW:Located near a cluster of public housing complexes, IS 49 serves many students from poverty-stricken homes. Some live in foster homes. While the Williamsburg neighborhood around it is being transformed as artists and young professionals move in, "the school is not changing as fast," according to principal Alberto Garcia. Still, there are signs things are improving at IS 49.
In January 2004, IS 49 was removed from the state list of schools failing to meet standards. Garcia focuses unapologetically on test scores, and has managed to move a substantial number of students from Level 1 the lowest on standardized tests to Level 2. Garcia has also boosted both student and teacher attendance, and required what he calls "bell-to-bell instruction" during each class. He has emphasized special assistance to students on the borderline of passing the state exam. Still, he says, "In this school, every child needs extra help."
Hallways and classrooms in the spacious building are clean and pleasant, although they could use more decoration. Each floor houses a different grade, and Garcia has taken pains to keep 6th graders on the first floor, separated from older students. This, he said, has led to a more orderly atmosphere.
Students seemed, for the most part, engaged in lessons, and we saw some good teaching on a staff working to adopt the citywide math and literacy curriculum. Most desks are arranged in clusters instead of rows as in the past, and teachers spend less time lecturing and more time guiding independent and group work.
We visited the week before the 8th-grade state English test, when some teachers were prepping kids for the exams. In one class, students corrected a mistake-ridden essay for grammar, capitalization and punctuation. The teacher clearly liked being there, calling the students "awesome," but noted that a class he would teach later had "a really rowdy population." While discipline has improved dramatically inside the school under Garcia's leadership, and while students appeared well behaved on our visit, parents we spoke to in the community mentioned that there are still some fights outside the school.
The school has a refurbished library and a new computer lab. It offers choral music and a dance program, but no instrumental music instruction.
The award-winning art program benefits from an art room with life-sized sculptures of geometrically-shaped creatures. On our visit, two 7th grade guides led us through the first floor student art gallery, explaining how different pieces fit into the show's theme of "earth, wind and fire." Both exhibit and tour were impressive, part science lesson, part art show.
There are six self-contained special education classes. Each grade has one bilingual class for Spanish-speaking students.
Most graduates go on to the Grand Street Campus High Schools just a few blocks away. Others go to Harry Van Arsdale, or to arts magnet schools. (Deborah Apsel, January 2004)Read more