Success Academy Fort Greene Charter School
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High-performing school with engaging performing arts program
High rates of student suspension and staff turnover
Success Academy schools are known for high test scores and strict discipline, following the pattern established at the networks flagship school, Harlem Success 1. But at Success Academy Fort Greene, it was the arts that stood out on our visit. Hallways are lined with childrens arts projects and one alcove was dedicated to a spring art show. We saw a dynamic performance of Annie, by talented 4th graders. Principal Jennifer Loving is a former musical theater performer herself.
Buffeted by a staff changes since it opened in 2013, Success Academy Fort Greene appears to have found a keeper in Loving, who came in January 2016. The fourth principal in four years, Loving replaced a leader who left after it was revealed that he had a got to go a list of students he felt were bringing the school down.
The student suspension rate in 2014-15 was 25 percent, well above the state wide average of 3 percent. Morale among teachersand familieswas low, Loving said. Teacher turnover was 58 percent in 2015-16, and many families left the school. However, the school appears to have stabilized since Loving arrived.
[She] is great. She comes in all the time. Shes able to help us, one teacher told us. On our visit, Loving appeared to know every child by name; many of them ran up to give her a hug.
Routines and rituals are paramount at Success. Children sit with hands clasped, keeping their eyes closely tracking the teacher or speaker. A teachers hand might rest casually on the shoulder of a squirmy youngster; a child who is having a rough dayas one kindergartner confided to us that he was having, might sit apart from the rest of the class.
Rather than cozy dress-up corners, water tables and pretend kitchens, kindergarten classrooms at Fort Greene Success look more academic with just a few puppets used at story time in a corner. Children go to a block room daily where they build structuressometimes tying in with a lesson or a storyand learn to navigate problems that arise working collaboratively in groups. They have a weekly performing arts class and recess twice a day in an adjacent city playground.
Most classrooms have two teachers, one a lead teacher and one an associate still learning the routines.
Math is accelerated. Just before the end of the school year, students got a chance to experience being in the next grades classroom. We saw 1st graders doing complicated number problems, more suited to 2nd grade. State test scores are far higher than other District 13 and city schools and there is lots of test prep in the months preceding the exams.
Loving said that she tells parents before they apply, Were going to be asking a lot of you. Its challenging. We require homework to be signed, uniforms and that students be on time.
There is some concern about student safety in the surrounding neighborhood: only 34 percent of teachers responding to a school survey said students are safe outside the school. Lunch is late in the building shared with the Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School, but children get a snack in the morning and a late lunch helps kids get through the long afternoon, the principal said.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are Integrated Co-Teaching classes on most grade levels.
ADMISSIONS: District 13 priority. Between 60-70 percent of the students come from the surrounding city public housing developments although some come from Queens. A downside is the schools location far from the nearest subway train. (Pamela Wheaton, June 2017)Read more