Girls Prep Bronx Charter Elementary School
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All-girls school with a focus on science
Long waitlist; limited after-school options
Girls Prep Bronx Charter Elementary offers strong academics with a focus on science in a warm and stimulating setting. In addition to regular classes each girl has one special class a day, which may include gym, music, dance, visual arts or yoga.
“My girls feel empowered here,” said a mother of three students ranging from elementary to middle school age. “It’s not like they have to live up to [female] stereotypes.”
Founded in 2009, the school is modeled on Girls Prep Lower East Side, the first all-girls charter in New York City. Girls Prep differs from charters with very strict codes of conduct, by favoring more input from teachers and a more relaxed atmosphere, according to founding principal Josie Carbone, who has since moved on to a position of leadership in the Public Prep network. Tomasz Krzyzostaniak has been the school’s principal since 2017.
Students have five days a week of science, which is unusual for elementary school. On our visit we saw 4th-graders making land and water forms out of paper, paint and cardboard. As they get older, the girls write lab reports based on collected data.
“Science is my favorite subject, I have to say,” said a 4th grade student.
The school day is longer than typical and girls in all grades get double periods of reading and math. They spend time daily on “close reading,” the practice of reading slowly and taking notes to glean the deepest meaning from a text. The girls also read for fun on their own and read books as a class.
Math and science are project-based and filled with hands-on activities. State test scores in reading and math are well above the citywide average, including for children with special needs.
Pre-k (called PrePrep here) classes are co-ed. The tone is child-friendly, with a purposeful bustle of movement and talk. During our visit we “purchased” flowers with toy money from a small “shopkeeper” and watched a boy and girl set the stage for story in the dramatic play area.
Learning also takes place outside the classroom walls. Fourth-graders travel to Philadelphia to study the American Revolution. Fifth-graders visit an overnight camp with archery and climbing. The girls visit a Manhattan courthouse to hold mock trials on topics such as the use of Japanese internment camps during World War II.
A few downsides: One parent said she’d like more after school choices and some wish there was foreign language instruction. Families may attend a variety of after-school programs in the area which are listed on the school’s website.
The middle school is at 890 Cauldwell Avenue. Most of the girls in the lower school continue on to the middle school.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers two team-teaching classes on each grade. Teachers try to spot problems early, and children who fall even a few months behind in reading get extra help from a specialist.
ADMISSIONS: By lottery. District 8 priority. There are roughly 2,000 applications each year for a variety of grades. The best entry points are in Pre-k or kindergarten. Few spots open up in grades 1-5. Priority also goes to siblings, NYCHA housing residents and the children of teachers. (Lydie Raschka, February 2020)