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Nelson A. Rockefeller (P.S./I.S. 121) Magnet School of Applied Life Sciences

Grades: K-8
Staff Pick
5301 20 Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11204
Phone: 718-377-8845

Our Insights

What’s Special

Small, nurturing pre-k to 8 school

The Downside

No auditorium or full-size gymnasium

With just two classes in most grades (one in the middle school grades), PS 121 is a small, nurturing school in an Orthodox Jewish enclave in Borough Park. Nearly every class mixes general education and special needs children and most have at least two adults. The school has a stable staff and many sweet traditionsshowcasingstudent work at parent-teacher night, annual dance performances, and Saturday events such as family portrait art day and bingo.

Students from diverse corners of the worldUzbekistan, Mexico, Chinahappily play and work together. Groups of middle school studentslooking a bit like the United Nations, study together for a Regents Earth Science exam or rehearse for an English class performance.

Virtually all students stay for middle school grades rather than go off to one of the district's large, specialized middle schools. A few who leave even come back, the principal said.

"Everyone is friendly. The teachers are good," a 6th-grader told us. "I don't know how I'd be in a bigger school."

Students are engrossed in their work and seem happy to be at school; some skipping through the hallways. Principal Anthony Mungioli brought stability when he arrived at PS 121 in 2014 after it had three principals in three years. The enrollment, which had dropped below 200, was up to 350 by 2016.

"Mr. M is a great principal," a teacher told us. "He's approachable. The environment is calm. Everybody is working together."

Classrooms are large and roomy in the building, constructed in the 1930s, but the gymnasium is small and there is no auditorium. A huge outdoor play yard, adjacent to a city field, helps make up for the lack of a full-size gym. A small garden in the front of the building gives children an opportunity to get their hands dirty planting flowers and vegetables.

The school follows the scripted ReadyGen curriculum in the early grades and then switches to Expeditionary Learning from grades 3-8 which "does a very good job of covering science and social studies," the principal said. Students all read the same books and discuss them together, although there is time for children to choose their own books to read, too. In middle school, 8th-graders are separated into different tracks for math and science; the more advanced students take the Earth Science Regents. Math scores, while improving, are still not high enough to warrant an algebra class, the principal said.

Every room has at least two, and sometimes three adults. In the elementary grades, there is an ASD Nest classroom with a maximum of 16 students, a handful of whom are on the autism spectrum. They get regular social skills lessons with the speech therapist where they get pointers on how to play with their classmates and learn social norms.

Science is a major focus, and the school plans to add a greenhouse with grant money. Pre-schoolers made little bird feeders to go in the garden, planted seeds and watched a Magic School Bus video. Pre-k is play-based, but instruction in kindergarten becomes academic: even 5-year-olds write research projects on countries such as Mexico.

There is a wide range of reading levels, especially since so many students are still learning English. Teachers keep binders of student work which follow the children from grade to grade.

Popular high school choices are Midwood, Madison and the school just down the block, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which is the zoned school for many in the neighborhood.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Every classroom is either an ICT team-teaching class or an ASD Nest classroom. Classrooms are quiet, neatly arranged and well thought-out without too many visual distractions.

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Most elementary students stay for middle school. ASD Nest students come from throughout the district and are placed by the Department of Education. (Pamela Wheaton, May 2016)

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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 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
87%
71% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
93%
84% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
44%
51% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
93%
78% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
91%
78% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1%
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
84%
79% Citywide Average

How do students perform academically?

From 2018 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
71%
54% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
57%
50% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
50%
46% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
54%
51% Citywide Average

From 2018 Middle School Directory

What high schools do most graduates attend?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, and William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
0%
32% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2018-19 Demographic Snapshot

Enrollment
333
Asian
20%
Black
5%
Hispanic
42%
White
32%
Other
1%
Free or reduced priced lunch
79%
Students with disabilities
27%
English language learners
22%

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
94%
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
16%
23% Citywide Average

From 2018 School Directories

Uniforms required?
Yes

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
38%
25% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
38%
22% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
30%
24% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
13%
16% Citywide Average


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

Contact & Location

Location

Borough Park (District 21)
Trains: N Line to 20th Ave; F Line to Ave I
Buses: B11, B6, B8, B9

Contact

Principal
Zakariah Haviland
Parent Coordinator
Loretta Bravata

Other Details

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes

Zone for the 2019-2020 school year. Call school to confirm.

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