Harlem Link Charter School
Lots of creative projects; two teachers in each classroom.
Test scores in English are low; no after school program.
At Harlem Link Charter students have a chance to work on creative projects, and there is plenty of emphasis on fundamental skills and test preparation as well. Typical of many charter schools, students wear uniforms, are called scholars, learn cheers and follow rules that are standardized among classes and grades. Overall, the tone throughout the school is cheery and relaxed.
The school is in a gentrifying section of Harlem, steps from Fifth Avenue and a few blocks north of Central Park. It shares a two-building complex with PS 185, PS 208, and a small program for students with severe disabilities.
The school was founded in 2005 by a husband-wife team, Margaret Ryan and Steven Evangelista, who both started their teaching careers in New York City schools through Teach for America. Evangelista, whom students call Mr. E, became the sole director in 2010 after Ryan took a maternity leave to care for their first child. Ryan remains an integral part of the school leadership, overseeing curriculum development and teacher training.
In classrooms we observed, students were well-behaved and engaged. We saw a lot of creative work across all grades. In the younger ones, teachers balance the heavy academic lessons, like parsing non-fiction text or mathematical reasoning, with a little fun downtime, like singing along to music video. We saw a nice display of Revolutionary war diaries written by students--illustrated and stained brown to look old--as well as lots of art in the classrooms.
Two teachers are assigned to each classroom and struggling learners get individual help. Evangelista and Ryan are critical of their own experiences with Teach for Americawhich hires uncertified teachers right out of collegeand, as a result, hire mainly experienced teachers at Harlem link. When we visited there was one Teach for America member, the first the school ever hired. Now weve grown enough to handle a new teacher on staff, said Evangelista. We have experienced teachers on every grade to help new ones.
Test scores in English are low and as the state exam nears, the need to improve students performance looms large. During a school-wide gathering in the gymnasium, select students were honored for good attendance and achievement. Mr. E inducted some into The Grammar Hall of Fame (for consistent use of good grammar) and reminded their schoolmates that there was one more opportunity to earn the honor before the state exam. Teachers also honored some of their students for achievements including scoring level 3 or improving their performance on practice tests. A two-week Summer Academy is designed to counter an academic summer slump.
Many students here face serious concerns; in one class, on our 2015 tour, kids were discussing visiting brothers and fathers in prison. The suspension rate has been high at Harlem Link, but was cut in half, said the principal, when teachers adopted a new program called Responsive Classroom,to build a more positive school climate. Older students from Harlem Link mentor kids from the school serving children with serious special needs in the same building.
Space is tight and the school made trade-offs. To maintain two science rooms, administrative offices and support services are concentrated into two rooms divided into a maze of cubicle-size spaces. We came across a small group of students working with a teacher in a stairwell, and group of advanced students doing some independent work in the hallway outside their classroom.
Most students commute by school bus. To ensure their safety, Harlem Link staffs each bus with an adult trained in child safety and CPR.
Special education: There is one ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) class in each grade.
After school: There is no after school program.
Admissions: Priority to residents of District 3. Parents may contact the school to request an application or download one from the school's Web site. Pre-kindergarten is available starting fall 2015. (Lydie Raschka, May 2015)
Is this school safe and well-run?
From 2016-17 NYC School Survey
From 2015-16 NY State Report Card
From this school's most recent Quality Review Report
How do students perform academically?
From 2017 State ELA+Math Results Summary
What is the Pre-K like?
From this school's most recent Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
From this school's most recent Early Childhood Environmental Rating System (ECERS-R)
Who does this school serve?
From 2017-18 Demographic Snapshot
From 2018 School Directories
How does this school serve special populations?
From 2017 State ELA+Math Results Summary
Manhattan NY 10026