The Bedford-Stuyvesant building that houses Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School is state of the art. Every classroom has a computer station and a DVD projector. At home, parents can log on to the school’s website to track their children’s grades or chat with a live operator.
Brooklyn Excelsior, which is a member of National Heritage Academies, adheres to four pillars: academic excellence, moral focus, parental partnerships and student responsibility.
So while its building is high-tech, the school’s curriculum is simple and straightforward: master the basics. Students have a rigorous program of study, which helps them build a strong foundation in math, reading and writing.
Brooklyn Excelsior’s success comes from setting the bar high: by the end of kindergarten, students are expected to recognize at least 100 sight words.
“We have a very high degree of teacher commitment and a very clear focus on what our goal is, which is to provide them with a college opportunity curriculum,” said Dr. Thomas DeMarco, the school’s principal.
When students enter the 8th grade, Brooklyn Excelsior works to make the rocky transition to high school easier. A guidance counselor helps students research choices and find a school with programs that match their interests.
“We arranged for a series of visits for graduating seniors, kind of like visiting colleges, so they could see what high schools were like prior to applications,” DeMarco said.
While Brooklyn Excelsior prides itself on strong academics, students are not just limited to the classroom. The school also has an extensive set of extracurricular activities, with everything from step and dance teams to a computer club.
Families are also very active at Brooklyn Excelsior: there is an ad-hoc parents’ committee with volunteers who help the school with daily activities.
“They’ve assisted with line-ups in the morning and lunchtime,” DeMarco said.
Jahdiel Alston is both a staff member and parent. Her oldest son, a 6th grader, transferred to Brooklyn Excelsior last year and she loves the school’s parent-friendly environment.
“They communicate with their phone numbers and emails,” Alston said. “Here, he’s gotten phone calls home just to say he was an excellent student for the whole month.”
She also supports Brooklyn Excelsior’s elementary through middle school format.
“Since it’s K through 8, they get to stay here until high school and they get to know everyone,” Alston said.
She leads tours of the school and encourages parents to help out at Brooklyn Excelsior.
This strong relationship with parents helps prepare students both academically and socially. DeMarco describes Brooklyn Excelsior’s education as “character-based,” meaning students are taught to act responsibly and respect one another.
With such an intense focus on academics and social education, it is not surprising that a line in Brooklyn Excelsior’s student creed reads, “We work diligently to prepare for the future.” Parents and faculty are always around to help, but ultimately Brooklyn Excelsior’s goal is to teach students to be successful on their own.
Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School
856 Quincy St.
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11221
Dr. Thomas DeMarco, Principal
— Patty Lee