American Dream Charter Middle School
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Kids become fluent in both English and Spanish
Early start may be difficult for some
Opened in 2014, American Dream Charter is a small middle school designed to teach students in the South Bronx to speak, read, and write in both English and Spanish with equal degree of fluency. This dual language school has received approval from the New York State Board of Regents to expand to serve grades 6-12.
The schools founder and principal, Melissa Melkonian, is a former bilingual special education teacher in New York City schools and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. In designing the school, Melkonian drew from her own experiences learning English.
Overall, teachers, parents and students give the school high marks for safety, communication and setting high standards, based on responses to the 2015-16 NYC School Survey.
Test scores run average for the city, but exceed the District 7 average. The school has a particularly strong record with special needs students, whose scores exceed citywide averages.
Student enjoy field trips such as a 6th-grade overnight trip to Camp Ramapo, 7th grade trip to New York Liberty basketball game, and an 8th grade trip to an adventure park, according to the school's website. Every child is given a Kindle e-reader; each classroom is stocked with ChromeBooks, according to the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting.
The school day starts early at 7 am and runs to 3:30 pm. American Dream shares a building with PS 30, which also has a Spanish-English dual language program.
The school's expansion is being designed with help from the Harvard Business School Club of New York, according to the organizations website.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: For 2017, 21 percent of the student body receives special educations services; 23 percent are English language learners.
ADMISSIONS: Students are admitted by lottery with priority to those residing in District 7, siblings of current students and English language learners. (Laura Zingmond, web reports, 2017; photo from school's website).