Brooklyn Environmental Exploration School (BEES)

Grades: 6-8
251 Mcdougal Street
Brooklyn NY 11233
Phone: 718-453-3039

Our Insights

What’s Special

Lots of trips and lively class debates

The Downside

Test scores, while improving, have a way to go

Students at the Brooklyn Environmental Exploration School (BEES) plant vegetables in a community garden near the school, dissect a cactus to learn about desert plants at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and go hiking at a wilderness camp upstate.

In class, students engage in debates on weighty topics: Should the government fund embryonic stem cell research? Should schools or families should take responsibility for childhood obesity? Should children with learning disabilities get less homework and extra time on tests?

At this tiny middle school, students move around the classroom, chatting with their classmates as they prepare an argument to present to the rest of the class. They work in groups on a math problem. They test whether a golf ball, a ping pong ball or a marble has more force when it rolls down a ramp.   

“I want what every parent wants, for kids to be learning, happy and safe,” says Principal Craig Garber, who founded the school in 2013 after nearly a decade teaching at Beginning with Children Charter Middle School in Williamsburg. “The teachers are friendly and the kids are talking.”

Test scores are below the citywide average, but are inching up. In 2017, BEES was listed as one of 10 city schools with the largest gains in reading test scores

BEES has embraced the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), the city’s program to boost reading skills with a longer school day, exercises to build vocabulary, and classroom debates designed to teach children to develop an argument and to speak clearly. On our visit, both teachers and students seemed happy and engaged in the debates.

Trips are a big part of the curriculum. Every year, children go on an overnight trip to Camp Ramapo in Rhinebeck, NY, where they learn about the environment and use ropes to climb trees. They see magic shows and African dance at the New Victory Theater in Manhattan and visit the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City and the New York Hall of Science in Queens. They travel to Philadelphia and Washington, DC, to learn about U.S. history and government.

At lunch and recess, children may choose whether they want to go outside, play board games indoors, read in the library, exercise in the gym, or play foosball or knock hockey in a special “game room.” Garber says fun, supervised activities like these keep children safe—and less like to take part in bullying that often accompanies unstructured time.

For children who want to arrive early or stay late, the school is open from 6:45 am to 5:45 pm each day. Children may work in the library or play sports such as flag football, volleyball and basketball when classes are not in session “For a very small school, we have pretty robust sports teams,” Garber says. There is a full-time guidance counselor and a full-time social worker.

A downside to the small size: No foreign language is offered.

The school has more girls than boys, possibly because there is an all-boys’ school nearby, Eagle Academy for Young Men II. It shares a building with Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School.

SPECIAL EDUCATION:  The school offers team-teaching classes. Although it doesn’t have a designated self-contained class, some of the team-taught classes have just a dozen students with two teachers—the same size as a typical self-contained class. Garber says BEES offers flexible programming in an effort to accommodate students whose IEP calls for a self-contained class.

ADMISSIONS: District 23 choice. In recent years, the school has had room for all applicants. “I’ll take anyone who wants to be here,” says Garber. (Clara Hemphill, November 2017)

Read more

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?
89% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
27% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
88% 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 2020-21 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 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
40% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
44% Citywide Average

From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
34% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From the 2021-22 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
92% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
26% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?

How does this school serve special populations?

From the 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
14% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
15% Citywide Average

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

Contact & Location


Bedford-Stuyvesant (District 23)
Trains: L Line to Bushwick - Aberdeen; J Line to Chauncey St; C Line to Rockaway Ave; A Line, Z Line to Broadway Junction
Buses: B12, B20, B25, B26, B60, B7, B83, Q24, Q56


Craig Garber
Parent Coordinator
Craig Garber

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares the building with the Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?

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