Heketi Community Charter School
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Family-friendly, progressive charter school
Not for families looking for strict routines and uniforms
Heketi, meaning "one" in Taino (the language of the indigenous people of the Caribbean), is a lovely name for this cheerful school with a strong sense of unity. Teachers seek to instill pride in South Bronx children and to offer them social and emotional support along with hands-on lessons, projects and field trips. The ethnically diverse staff reflects the student population, and there is a Spanish-English dual language program.
Children do not wear uniforms or walk silently in hallways or between activities, as they do at some charters; instead of using the term "scholars," teachers simply say "friends."
Every day, teachers lead lessons on caring about others, listening and identifying feelings. They focus on virtues such as persistence and compassion. Aside from some novice teachers who have struggled with classroom management here (and sometimes been asked to leave), educators at Heketi find this to be an approach that works.
Kindergartens are stocked with books, math games, blocks and dress-up areas. Test scores are above the citywide average in math but below average in English language arts, not too surprising, given that more than one-third of students are new English speakers.
There was a hum of chatter as kids worked in groups or pairs on our visit. Teachers train the youngest kids to adjust to the give-and-take of working in groups. Stronger readers may join older students so they can participate in more complex conversations about books. Class size is small on purpose to reach all kids, and because many need extra help, said Principal Cynthia Rosario, a bilingual Bronx native.
Opened in 2012 in a building shared with NYC Montessori Charter, Heketi is now in its own location on Concord Avenue next to St. Mary's Park, about a ten-minute walk from the 2 and 5 Jackson Avenue subway station.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes in which children with special needs and general education students are in one classroom, with two teachers, one of whom is trained in special education.
ADMISSIONS: Heketi is open to all city students, but preference is given to those who speak a language other than English at home and who are residents of District 7. They do not participate in the charter schools common application. Applications in Spanish and English can be found on the school website. (Lydie Raschka, October 2015; updated August 2016)Read more