M.S. 126 John Ericsson
Improved atmosphere and interesting partnerships
Declining enrollment and persistently low test scores
MS 126 has long struggled with declining enrollment, low test scores and a poor atmosphere, but there are some signs of an improved tone and learning environment. On the eastern edge of McCarron Park, MS 126 shares a building with two charter schools: Believe Northside Charter High School and Citizens of the World Charter School 1.
The school has undergone multiple leadership changes in recent years. Marcos Bausch, a former assistant principal at a Washington Heights school, took over as principal in 2011. Some parents told the Queens Ledger that they have seen positive changes since he arrived at the school. Overall, parents reported being more satisfied with the education their children are receiving at MS 126 after Principal Bausch arrived than in the previous years, according to the Learning Environment Survey. Teachers also give Bausch good marks, with the majority of teachers reporting that he is an effective manager who understands how children learn and is aware of what is happening in the classroom.
Ninety-six percent of teachers reported that order and discipline were maintained at the school in the 2012-2013 school year, whereas just 31 percent said the same the year before. Bausch sets high expectations for respect amongst students and staff and communicates behavioral expectations clearly, according to the schools Quality Review. The principal meets regularly with a team of guidance counselors, social workers, a dean, and the assistant principals to discuss individual students needs. The school also receives support from the Diplomas Now program, which provides extra academic and behavioral support to students.
MS 126 offers various extracurricular activities, some of which were developed in the last two years with student input. Students may participate in various sports, ballroom dance, robotics, or chess club. A partnership with the U.S. Navy allows students to create their own land and underwater robots, and the Chess in the Schools program facilitates the schools chess club.
English language learners: Students who are learning English are taught alongside their English-speaking classmates and receive extra support from an ESL teacher in class.
Special education: MS 126 offers self-contained classes as well as integrated co-teaching (ICT) classrooms in which students with special needs are mixed with students from the general population. ICT classes feature two teachers, one of whom is certified to teach special education.
Admissions: Unscreened Priority for residents of District 14. (Pauline Zaldonis, web reports, October 2013)