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Dance, instrumental music and coding in a modern new building
Parent involvement could be stronger
MS 358 is a small and ethnically diverse middle school that offers classes in dance, instrumental music and computer coding. Founded in 2015, it occupies a modern new building with big windows built to ease overcrowding in District 28. It shares space with PS 349 and Q277 The Riverview, a District 75 program for students with disabilities.
MS 358 takes part in the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), the city program designed to boost reading levels with a longer school day and special activities. All 6th graders study dance through Arts Matter Initiative and coding with Code.org. Seventh and 8th graders can then major in one of those areas. Majors in both fields take trips, and dance majors have opportunities to perform. Children may also study string instruments for three days a week in a partnership with the Harmony Program.
CUNY sends in tutors in to help the high school students with math and science. Artists from Marquis Studios program help teachers infuse art into math, science and other lessons. To promote reading, all students receive a Queens Library card during the first month of school, according to the yearly plan, and there is a debate team.
Teachers give the principal high marks, on school surveys, and say they work well with other teachers. A positive report prepared for the Department of Education found that school leaders consistently communicate a shared set of high expectations to staff, students and families that promote a positive culture for learning.
Test scores are average but are improving. Principal Brendan Mims wrote to tell us MS 358 was recognized by New York State as a “reward school,” based on its standardized test score growth in 2017, compared to the year before.
The school is working to strengthen ties with parents, according to the yearly plan. Parents are invited to student-led conferences, as well as workshops on topics such as reading strategies. Staff members provide translation for parents who do not speak English.
Graduates of MS 358 have been accepted to Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Queens High School for the Sciences at York, Townsend Harris, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Cardozo and The High School of Community Leadership, to name a few, Mims says.
ADMISSIONS: The school is open first to students in the zone and then to those from elsewhere in District 28. With about three applicants for every seat, children are selected for admission at random. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and email from the principal, March 2018)