Parkside Preparatory Academy
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Students get well-rounded education; some earn scholarships to private boarding schools
Some discipline problems
Drawing on a philosophy of education formed in her native Jamaica, long-time principal Adrienne Spencer sets the tone for the Parkside Preparatory Academy, also known as MS 2. The school's Latin motto is embroidered on her blazer lapel: Agi Quod Agis, or do well what you do, concentrate on the task at hand. She cares about structure and grammar. She exposes kids to classical music.
"In my country every subject is important, even phys ed," says Spencer, explaining why she believes children need a well-rounded education, including music, dance and drama. Children may join a hiking and biking club or take a cooking class after school. She teaches a class herself--Spanish the day of our visit--and other administrators teach as well.
A zoned neighborhood school, MS 2 serves a range of children, including some who live in homeless shelters and new arrivals from Yemen, Somalia, Haiti and French Guiana who are just learning English. While most pupils have weak academic skills, a few top students win scholarships to private boarding schools after participating in Prep for Prep and the Oliver Scholars Program. MS 2 offers SHSAT prep two days a week to encourage more children to apply to the city's specialized high schools. A handful of students have been accepted to Brooklyn Tech High School.
While the school was orderly during our visit, it has wrestled with discipline problems in recent years. Spencer says teachers have adopted restorative justice in which students make amends to those they have harmed, a practice that has led to lower suspension rates.
There is some lively teaching: one science teacher demonstrated the phases of the moon by draping a towel over a globe; another made test prep for the Living Environment Regents exam seem fun. One history teacher encouraged students to talk about 19th century factory life in Lowell, MA, while another sparked a discussion about the architecture of ancient Greece. Regents level classes are offered in Spanish, US History, Algebra I, and Living Environment.
This school shares the building with Explore Charter School and a District 75 program, K141
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Team teaching and self-contained classes are offered. On our visit, the school seemed to do a good job including students with special needs in regular classes. For example, one child donned earphones to listen to an audio book of To Kill a Mocking Bird while others read the text in print.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school. There is usually some room for out-of-zone children. (Clara Hemphill, April 2017)Read more