Tech International Charter School
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French lessons and technology projects
Closed because of poor performance
2017 UPDATE: The school has closed because of poor performance. According to the Riverdale Press: "The school went through three executive directors, two principals, a 50 to 60 percent student turnover and saw 90 percent of teachers leaving after their first year, principal Ryan McCabe told a meeting of Community Board 8’s education committee in November.
"There were also 'financial issues, issues of student suspensions, issues of student discipline,' McCabe said. 'Issues of student learning were kind of rampant in the school.'" The Riverdale Press said.
2015 PROFILE: Founded in 2012, Tech International aims to introduce students to technology and international studies. Teens take trips around the city, study French and build online portfolios. They construct digital projects, such as PowerPoint or Prezi presentations.
This small, intimate school is like a Catholic school for families who can't afford it, says Executive Director Oslene Verret. Unfortunately, it has had a rocky start, including a revolving door of principals and teachers. Verret has been with Tech International since 2013 and has provided some stability, although she is not an educator. She has over 20 years of business and nonprofit management experience.
At the outset, teachers put much of their energy into serving the many children with special needs and did not offer much in the way of technology, but that is changing. Now there are required digital projects in core classes such as math, science and language. On our visit we clicked through a project on Japan, including a history of sushi, and read a student's biography and an essay titled "The best high schools."
The school's founders left within two years of the school's opening. Steve Bergen became co-director of Summercore. Adjowah Scott now serves as lower school director at Community Partnership Charter School in Brooklyn. Principal Kevin Boston-Hill took charge in 2014 but was gone in a year and is now CEO of Roosevelt Children's Academy on Long Island. Parents have complained of teacher turnover too.
The school graduated its first class of 8th-graders in 2015 and hired a new principal, Ryan McCabe, in July 2015. Formerly middle school principal of Inwood Academy, McCabe has also worked as a special education math teacher. At Inwood Academy he worked on teacher development and retention, according to DNAinfo's "Principal of the Week" feature.
Tech students travel to the Museum of the American Indian, New York Law School and the United Nations. Sixth- and 7th-graders take an "International Concepts" class mixing language arts, technology and international themes. Middle school is "where you begin to form that sense of possibility," said Verret. "We want kids to see the world as big."
A growing number of after-school clubs include Model UN, game design, Girls Who Code and robotics. "I'd love to have a Makerspace here," said Verret, referring to the increasingly popular DIY spaces in many schools and colleges where students can gather to build, create and learn. She'd also like to add dance. "We would benefit from more enrichment programs because many of our kids come in with deficiencies," she said.
Attendance is good. The staff keep close tabs on students who act out or miss school. They send a letter home after several absences and visit the child's home if absences continue.
The former office building is clean and pleasant but has challenges: The marble floors require lots of upkeep, there are few windows and the cafeteria is in the basement. One nice perk is that Kingsbridge Heights Community Center runs an after-school program in the building.
A guidance counselor meets with 8th-graders to assist with the high school admissions process, finding jobs, budgeting finances and other life skills.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: One-quarter of the children have special needs. Special education teachers assist them in and out of their regular classes. There are no advanced classes yet.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery in April with District 10 priority. There are more applicants than available seats, but the school maintains a waitlist. (Lydie Raschka, June 2015)Read more