MS 442 Carroll Gardens School for Innovation
Children who are disabled and those who are not study together
Some disabled children need a smaller class
MS 442 Carroll Gardens School for Innovation [until 2012 known as New Horizons Middle School] has strong leadership, a cohesive staff and a carefully thought-out plan to integrate children with disabilities in general education classes. Almost every class has two teachers, certified in both special education and their subject area. Principal Deanna Sinito takes particular care in pairing teachers who work well together. [Sinito left the school in August, 2015 to take a position with the central Department of Education. Her successor, Noreen Mills, has worked at the school since it opened in 1998, according to Chalkbeat NY.] There is a nice rapport between the administration and the faculty, and both the children and the teachers seem happy to be here. Children were planting a rooftop garden the day of our visita project that combined science and fun. Transitions between classes were smooth, and children were mostly engaged.
Sharing a building with PS 32, MS 442 has cheerful and well-equipped classrooms with children's artwork decorating the walls. Many of the students have poor academic skills, but teachers pride themselves on moving kids from the lowest levels on standardized tests to the middle of the pack. Children have instruction in small groups for one period before lunch four days a week to improve their skills.
More than 40 percent of the students receive special education services. Teachers work to provide support for the children who need extra help while offering challenges to those at the top. For example, in an English class, a very able child might read The Scarlet Letter or The Catcher in the Rye, while one who is struggling might read a graphic novel with just a few words on the page.
Teachers have plenty of time to plan lessons together and to visit one another's classes. Sinito encourages teachers to think of their school as an intellectual community in which both children and adults are constantly learning. Most schools post student work on the walls; MS 442 also posts teachers' advice to one another about strategies for improving instruction. "Teachers are really learning from each other," the principal said.
Graduates go on to Sunset Park High School, High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design, and Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women, among other schools.
Special education: Almost every class is a collaborative team teaching class (CTT) with two teachers. This school also hosts an ASD Nest Program for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Students with ASD learn in a classroom alongside typically developing children, taught by two teachers who have been trained in the programs specialized curriculum and teaching strategies.
English language learners: The school has more than a dozen English language learners.
Admissions: District 15. (Clara Hemphill, May 2011; updated with information about the Nest Program by Pauline Zaldonis, August 2013; update principal 2015)