Brooklyn Prospect International Charter School of New York
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Kids study ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
Above average suspension rate; no permanent building
Founded by a former diplomat, the International Charter School of New York has a global theme and a classical curriculum. Children learn about ancient civilizations and religions while mastering more typical elementary school lessons in reading and math.
“Our first graders compare and contrast the beliefs of Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Aztecs, and Mayans," founder Matthew Levey wrote on the school website. “Second graders study Buddhism and Hindu gods. Our third graders learn about Roman gods.”
Opened in 2015 in downtown Brooklyn, the school has attracted children of different races, ethnicities and income levels.
[Note: International Charter is merging with the Brooklyn Prospect Charter network, which has five schools (two elementary, two middle and one high school), in June 2021. Once the merger is finalized, 5th grade students at ICS will have seats at Clinton Hill Middle School. They may continue onto Brooklyn Prospect High School if they choose, according to the ICSNY website. All ICS grades will be located at 80 Willoughby Street starting in the fall of 2021.]
Kindergarten and 1st grade are housed in a space formerly occupied by the Brooklyn Friends private school, near Metrotech Commons, which gives children an outdoor space for play, surrounded by public art. Grades 2 to 5 are housed at 9 Hanover Place, four-tenths of a mile away.
The temporary quarters are not ideal—the cafeteria is also used as a gym—but parents say the quality of instruction makes up for the physical plant. “My son's experience in the classroom is far more important to me than any amount of logistical hassle,” a parent wrote on the InsideSchools website.
The school has adopted the Core Knowledge curriculum, which uses history as a "spine on which to nestle your child's learning experience," said Levey. Kindergartners read books about pre-European civilizations; 2nd graders study the medieval age; 4th graders, they focus on 1850 to the present and 5th-graders read an abridged text of The Odyssey, he said.
Class size is somewhat smaller than the typical New York City public schools, with 20 students in kindergarten and 25 in 1st grade, each with a head teacher and an assistant teacher. The school day runs from 8 am to 3:40 pm.
One downside: The school has a higher than average suspension rate. Levey explained the school’s disciplinary policy saying: “We are very much committed to a safe environment.”
SPECIAL EDUCATION: ICS offers one ICT (team-teaching) class on every grade.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery. Priority to District 13. In recent years, the school has had room for out of district children. See the school website for details. (Clara Hemphill, interview & web reports, October 2018; update on merger, April 2021)Read more