Share this school
Unusual electives; lots of projects and small-group learning
Limited spaces for students who don't attend PS 169; some friction between teachers and administration
BELL Academy is a small school that takes the methods often used in gifted and talented programs and extends them to all students. Based on the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), developed by Drs. Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis at the University of Connecticut, the school seeks to provide challenging, in-depth, enjoyable learning for all students.
Classes encourage research projects and small-group work, often revolving around current events. Students take up to three enrichment classes a year, with offerings in the arts, social justice, board games and the stock market, among other topics. Technology also is key with a videoconferencing center that lets students take virtual trips and haven meetings with students around the world.
By many accounts, the program has been successful. Although BELL does not screen applicants on the basis of academics, test scores are well above average. A prominent education researcher for the Century Foundation who visited the school in 2014 was unstinting in her praise, writing “I came to BELL in search of a more equitable approach to gifted education, and found a model I think other city schools should examine closely.”
The small, diverse school fosters a sense of community, and everyone apparently knows everyone else. Students responding to the annual NYC School Survey saw less bullying and a safer environment than their counterparts at other middle schools. The survey also indicated an unusually high level of parent involvement, with many parents volunteering at BELL.
One down side based on the survey is the relationship between teachers and the principal. In general, teachers gave long-time principal David Abbott low marks.
BELL shares its building with PS 169, with both schools using the library, cafeteria, auditorium and gym.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: BELL has ICT (integrated co-teaching) and self-contained classes. Special education students outperform their peers in other schools on state standardized tests.
ADMISSIONS: The school is open to all students living in District 25, with students who attended PS 169 or live in the zone getting priority. There are more applicants than seats. (Gail Robinson, web reports, April 2019)Read more