Success Academy Hell's Kitchen Charter School
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Racially mixed charter school with sky-high test scores
Strict rules and discipline not to every familys taste
Part of the growing network of charter schools founded by the combative former city councilwoman, Eva Moskowitz, Success Academy Hell's Kitchen has sky-high test scores, a beautifully renovated space, and a racially and economically mixed student body that comes from as far away as the Bronx and Queens.
Like all the schools in the network, Success Hell's Kitchen has explicit, consistent expectations for students, staff and parents. Lessons are timed to the second. Students follow a strict discipline code with clear rules and consequences for breaking them. Parents must pledge to get children to school on time and ensure they do their homework; they are also expected to attend political rallies at City Hall or in Albany organized by Moskowitz in support of charter schools. Parents as well as children get report cards.
Children in their orange and blue uniforms file silently through the halls; beepers or clapping hands signal the time to move from one activity to another in class. A child who misbehaves may be asked to stand or sit apart from the rest of his class while an hour-glass timer measures his time-out. Repeat infractions result in calls home or suspension.
While some chafe at the disciplineand critics complain that Success policy of suspending children as young as kindergarten is overly harshthe networks defenders say the approach means less wasted time and more focus on learning.
The network takes pride in a curriculum that includes daily science lessons (in one class, children were learning to name the parts of a seed the day we visited) and social studies projects such as an immigration study (with a trip to Ellis Island) and a transportation study (with a trip to the Brooklyn Bridge.) There is a chess team, and an after-school musical theater program. The classrooms are unusually bright and cheery, with plenty of supplies and fun-to-read books. Daily recess gives children time to play.
At the same time, there is an intense focus on achievement as measured by standardized tests, and many hours are spent preparing children for the states annual reading and math exams. Children who fall behind are held back rather than being promoted to the next grade.
Graduates may attend a Success middle school, including Success Midtown West in the same building. Both schools share the Graphics Educational Campus with several small high schools.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Success Hells Kitchen offers team-teaching classes as well as occupational, physical and speech therapy. In the past, parents at several Success academies accused the network of discrimination against students with special needs, but Success officials say they are committed to offering appropriate services to children with disabilities.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery in April. Although preference goes to children living in District 2, the school typically has space for children citywide. Some are accepted from the waitlist. The waitlist moves throughout the summer and fall, a school official said. (Clara Hemphill, June 2017)