Friday, November 29, 2013
A Nice Neighborhood Small School - School #8
The school I was in for the last two weeks is a real oddity in the New York City Public School System. Its a small high school that is an extension of the long existing middle school it shares a building with. Over 90% of the students come from the neighborhood and because of the school's relative isolation, it's difficult for students to attend the school from outside the community. The school does not screen the students but they informally review applicants that apply from outside the neighborhood. This is a true neighborhood high school.
Demographically the school has about a 50-50 split between Hispanic and South Asian students with a smattering of Black and White students as well. Like all small schools there are no self-contained special education classes even though the school claims that 10% of the students are classified as self-contained. The question is why and is this common for all small schools? There are few English Language Learners and of course few if any "over the counter students" are assigned to the school by the DOE. Most of the teachers are young but not all. The Administration is a "mixed bag" with the well-liked Principal being the "good cop" and his two Assistant Principals being the "bad cops". More about them later.
The students are well behaved and the Principal's "zero tolerance policy" for misbehavior is a deterrent for the student body. The Principal is unhappy with the "career and college readiness grades" of the school which is lower than the average city school and has tried different approaches to improve the scores and improve Regents passing rates. To achieve his goal he has brought back the 5-1 program for all Regents Sciences. Meaning all students have five days of instruction and one day of lab during their lunch period. Like all small schools the students complain of inflexible schedules, lack of extracurricular activities and few optional courses.
The negatives are few but significant. The most obvious are the two Assistant Principals who are as nasty as they are pretty. Many of the teachers are terrified of them and will try to have the Principal intercede and mediate problems with the two of them. The new teacher evaluation system is a weapon in their hands and the staff is worried about how they will use the weapon on them. My first encounter with one was to report to her office for assignment as a "push in teacher". She was on the phone so I sat down, she stopped her phone conversation and told me "don't sit down, I will be off the phone in a minute". Five minutes later she finished her phone conversation and lectured me by saying "don't touch the students, don't yell at the students' and don't curse at the students". Then she gave me my assignment as I stood with my coat and bag during the entire time in her office. Last year the other Assistant Principal told a female ATR the following "did you show your students porn or did you hit a kid"?
Other negatives is the long commute by mass transit to the school, lack of a bathroom key and no teacher's room. The Chapter Leader never bothered to show her face or introduce herself to me or the other ATR and that is totally unacceptable in a small school.
On the bright side there is plenty of parking, the staff is friendly, and you are allowed out of the building during the school day. I would gladly work in the school if offered a position even with those horrible AP's..