Western Brooklyn

Seth Low & Success Academy Principals Say Co-Location Has Improved Both Schools

Photo by Bensonhurst Bean

Despite the hoopla several years ago over the city’s decision to create an elementary-level charter school in the same building as a Bensonhurst middle school, the union seems to working out better than expected.

Two years after the controversial co-location of the Eva Moskowitz-run Success Academy in Seth Low Intermediate School‘s underutilized building at 99 Avenue P, the principals of both schools say the pairing has been enriching for students at both schools.

“We felt it was our responsibility to make the best of sharing our space. When our schools work together, we’ve found that our students reap real rewards,” write Jonathan Dant and Erin Lynch in a joint editorial in Chalkbeat this week.

Dant and Lynch say several collaborative programs have bestowed a sense of responsibility in the tweens at Seth Low and that elementary schoolers have benefited immensely from having them as role models. Here are a few examples they cite:

Two years ago, our schools initiated a “Reading Buddies” program where middle-school students from Seth Low read to kindergarten, first, and second-grade students at Success Academy once a week. The program has benefitted students from both our schools.

At Seth Low, middle-school students feel a sense of responsibility for helping to develop the reading skills of their younger peers, the program has boosted both student attendance rates and reading scores. Success Academy students benefit from having reading role models, and parent demand for the program is high.

t was during a discussion of co-location that Principal Lynch had a chance to brag to schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña about the Reading Buddies program, prompting a visit last month where she praised the program after seeing it in action. We hope the chancellor can come back to observe the pride that Principal Lynch’s middle-schoolers have when touring younger Success students through Seth Low’s zoology lab — they love describing the animals’ habitats and teaching the younger students what they know about each one.

Our schools also work together to celebrate the arts and participate in public service projects together in a way that truly benefits the entire Bensonhurst community.

Last year, SA Bensonhurst students attended Seth Low’s productions of the musicals “Annie” and “Shrek.” Together, the two school communities have planned blood drives, canned food drives, and toy drives that help not just our schools, but the community at large. During Teacher Appreciation Week, SA Bensonhurst parents brought in breakfast for Seth Low staff and students hand-delivered cards to the classrooms of Seth Low teachers.

As we’ve reported, in 2013, many school community members, politicians, activists and Community Education Council 20 members initially objected to the pairing, due to concerns of overcrowding, inter-grade mingling and seeing public resources used for a privately-operated school.

Many saw the proposal as a last-minute attempt by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to shove charter schools into public school buildings before he left office, to be succeeded by Bill de Blasio — who has opposed co-location efforts.

Three years later, it seems that most of those fears have been laid to rest. Read the full story on Chalkbeat here.

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