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John D. Wells (M.S. 50)

Grades: 6-8
Staff Pick
183 South 3rd Street
Brooklyn NY 11211
Phone: 718-387-4184

Our Insights

What’s Special

Strong leadership; top-notch debate program; longer school day

MS 50 is a nurturing middle school that's gaining momentum thanks to an impressive debate program, strong leadership, and support from community organizations like El Puente, which offers after-school activities and family support services.

On our visit, children seemed relaxed and engaged; teachers were enthusiastic and spoke to students in a conversational voice. Students wear uniforms of a blue top and either black or khaki pants and every child is given a free sweatshirt and a few tops with the school logo.

Kids learn how to debate not only in English class, but in other classes as well. In English, they research a weekly debate topic such as single sex education, develop and present their arguments and offer feedback to their peers. In math, kids solve problems involving relevant statistics; in science, they read about and discuss gender differences and similarities; in social studies, they discuss the ethics of single sex education, including the issue of transgender students. Students who participate on the debate team, which has won city-wide tournaments, tackle topics on a more sophisticated level, but everyone in the school learns the basics.

It is hard to overstate the positive impact that Principal Ben Honoroff, a former teacher, assistant principal and debate coach at ACORN Community High School, has had since his arrival in June 2015. Sixth grade enrollment has doubled, attendance is up and chronic absenteeism (students absent more than 10 percent of the school year) is down. Honoroff and staff overhauled the curriculum and he gets high marks from parents, teachers and students based on their responses to the NYC School Survey. Honoroff was also a coach for the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), assisting participating schools, including MS 50, with the implementation of the MSQI programs aimed at boosting literacy skills in middle school students

In the classes we visited, teachers were adept at helping those struggling to read while challenging students who were high performing.

To bolster math achievement, Honoroff and teachers adopted the Big Ideas program, which encourages children to understand concepts while gaining computational accuracy.

MS 50 students have an extended school day until 4pm. During the extra periods students engage in activities such as debate class, drama, video game design, mural painting, robotics, crocheting (popular and very therapeutic, said Honoroff) salsa dancing, academic prep gardening and chess. El Puente oversees free after-school activities that run until 6 pm.

The school occupies three floors of an early, 20th century red brick building that is shares with Success Academy Williamsburg.

Students in all grades have a weekly, small group advisory with a teacher where they discuss a range of school and age-related issues. Staff members visit each incoming 6th-grader at home before the start of school. In the fall, Honoroff meets with each 8th-grader individually to discuss high school options.

In addition to a full-time guidance counselor and social worker, the Puerto Rican Family Institute provides counseling to families in need.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: In addition to SETTS there are ICT and self-contained classes for special needs students only. The school has a transitional bilingual program for native Spanish speakers.

ADMISSIONS: Priority to District 14 students and residents. The school has room for students from other parts of Brooklyn. (Laura Zingmond, January 2017)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
78% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
59% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
84% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
80% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2021 -22 Assessment Database

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
28% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
49% Citywide Average

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
37% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
90% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?
This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Spanish.
This school offers Dual Language classes in Spanish.

How does this school serve special populations?

From the New York State 2021 -22 Assessment Database

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
10% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
20% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
8% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
10% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Williamsburg (District 14)
Trains: L Line to Bedford Ave; J Line, M Line, Z Line to Marcy Ave; G Line to Metropolitan Ave-Lorimer St
Buses: B24, B32, B39, B44, B44-SBS, B46, B60, B62, Q54, Q59


Benjamin Honoroff
Parent Coordinator
Edda Santiago

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares a building with Success Academy Williamsburg Charter School
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?

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