Charter Board Explains Curriculum
During an open meeting this week, Community District Education Council 27 [CEC] welcomed the board of a new charter school that will soon take up residence on the peninsula. Members of the board of The Challenge Preparatory Charter School, which is scheduled to open in August, laid out its curriculum for council members, parents and students at their February 22 meeting held at MS 53 in Far Rockaway.
Reverend Leslie Mullings, the lead applicant for the charter school and the pastor at The Church of the Nazarene in Far Rockaway, has worked in New York City schools for many years.
‘[This school] was born in my heart, in my spirit of working in the schools of Far Rockaway,” said Mullings. “A lot of kids are written off and I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. I’ve lived it.”
Challenge Prep, he said, will bring quality education, give parents a quality option and quality choice “to insure that our children will get the best education possible and that is what we will offer as a school.”
Jerrill Adams, the principal of the school explained the rigorous curriculum that Challenge will offer.
The school will have an extended school day – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Monday through Friday. It will also have an extended year – 190 days.
Adams said these features will fill any educational gaps children have when they enter Challenge Prep.
“We plan to insure that every child achieves in spite of any [lack of] opportunities,” said Adams. “We’re not concerned about how they came to us. We’re concerned with how they leave us.”
Challenge Prep will have two teachers in each classroom kindergarten through second grade to allow for children to “sit down with a teacher in a small group and – 2, 3 or 4 kids – and get the extra help they need.”
There will be a maximum of 22 students in each class. Children will also have gym classes five days a week and have music classes in which they will be given instruments.
“So five days a week every child will get enrichment in the arts, music and physical education,” said Adams.
He added that each classroom will have a smart board and teachers will integrate smart board technology. There will be computers in every classroom “so that our children are ready to enter the workforce with 21st century skills.”
Students will be picked, by what Adams called a “blind admission that’s not based on any prior academic issues.” Names will be chosen with preference given to children living in District 27. Special preference will be given to youngsters living in the Far Rockaway area. The first year there will be 120 students – 60 in kindergarten and 60 in the 1st grade. Challenge Prep will continue adding classes each year until it reaches a 5th grade class.
While it has not yet been determined where Challenge Prep will be housed many of those who attended the meeting were parents and children from Goldie Maple Academy – the rumored proposed site of Challenge Preparatory. Several parents voiced their opposition to putting the new school in their building.
Tonyia DosSantos, who fears overcrowding at Goldie Maple said, “We are a pre-k through 8 school and still growing. Our building capacity is less than the DOE says. They did not take that into account.”
Vityshia Wingate talked about Challenge Prep’s plan for physical education five days a week and asked “What happens to a lot of the kids [at Goldie Maple] that can only have gym twice a week.”
She added, “I don’t believe it will be realistic. Where will all our kids go? We’re continuing to grow.”
Andrew Brauman, the president of CEC 27, also believed Wingate’s question about gym time needed to be addressed and promised the parents that “The board will fight for space in your school for your children.”
A meeting about Challenge Preparatory sharing the Goldie Maple Academy building will be held at the school – located at 365 Beach 56 Street in Arverne on March 4 at 6 p.m.