Family Life Academy Charter School III
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Lots of individualized attention; nice variety of arts instruction
Family Life Academy Charter III (FLACS III) offers strong leadership and a thoughtful design that ensures students get a lot of individualized attention. Founded in 2014, the school is s part of a small network of charter schools founded by the Latino Pastoral Action Center. Most students continue on to the FLACS Middle school.
Founding Principal Andrea Hernandez brings to FLACS III a wealth of experience, having worked for over thirty years—as a teacher and then principal—at the Bilingual Bicultural School in East Harlem. Hernandez is well-regarded by teachers and parents, based on their responses to the NYC Learning Survey.
Key to the school’s success is the amount of attention students get. Each class has a lead teacher and teaching assistant and during our visit we observed several classes where there were also para-professionals and learning specialists on-hand to work with students in small groups. Volunteer students from the Community School for Social Justice, a high school located around the corner from FLAC III, also help out in classrooms.
Math instruction is particularly strong and overall the school outperforms the citywide average on state exams. By third grade students are mastering grade-level concepts such as equivalent fractions and commutative properties for addition and multiplication.
Reading instruction is a mix of children reading books and other texts together as a class as well as independent selections. In the younger grades there’s a lot of emphasis on fundamentals such as phonics and it’s common for children to work with an adult in small groups arranged by skill level. In the upper grades, children delve deeper into analysis. For instance, after reading a passage together as a class, the teacher asked students in a 4th grade class to reflect on how specific words and phrases reveal the tone of a story.
Social studies, science and writing instruction don’t get short shrift. In a 1st grade class, students were creating rules for their school community, studying how light reflects off of surfaces by creating dark and bright areas of a puppet show scene and writing opinion pieces on topics of their choosing. In the upper grades they study different cultures and religions such as Taoism and Buddhism and write about their observations in hands-on science lessons such as explaining what causes the change of motion when pushing an object such as chair.
Visual arts and Latin percussion instruction are provided through a partnership with Dream Yard Productions. A performing arts teacher travels to classrooms to teach dance. Children in all grades go on field trips that are often connected to lessons at school such as 4th–graders visiting the Tenement Museum when learning about immigration.
Students come from different parts of the Bronx and the school employs a bus coordinator who oversees transportation and gets to know all the children.
The school is housed in a small building with limited space. The only common area is a multipurpose room where children eat lunch, have gym instruction and gather for group events. There is no kitchen. Food is prepared off site and includes popular selections such as chicken stew and barbeque chicken.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are no self-contained or ICT (integrated co-teaching classes). The school provides related services onsite.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery with priority to students residing in District 7. (Laura Zingmond, March 2020)Read more