U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited David A. Boody Intermediate School for Magnet Studies (I.S. 228) Thursday and toured the showcase site for the highly individualized, 21st Century “School of One” math program.
Secretary Duncan asked questions of administration, faculty and staff, and later told a group of sixth-grade reporters for the school newspaper that “I love your school.”
Boody is one of three New York City schools and the only Brooklyn school with a School of One program. The operation occupies large open spaces in a wing of the school’s second floor. Students work on laptop computers, travel to different stations and work with several teachers who interact with them individually and in groups.
Mr. Duncan asked Principal Dominick A. D’Angelo what was the biggest fear about going into such an enormous change from the traditional teacher in a single classroom setting.
“Our biggest concern was that the more seasoned teachers would be resistant to it,” Mr. D’Angelo said. “But once they see the power of it, and see the differentiation happen, they become believers in it. This is a way to deal with every student at their level.”
Assistant Principal Joyce Sigona, a former math teacher, said teachers love the program and that parents who have seen it have overcome their concerns about their children not having math textbooks.
School of One is now in its first full year in the daily curriculum in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades at Boody.
Before returning to Washington, Secretary Duncan signed autographs for students from “The Boody Buzz,” the school’s new student newspaper and told them, “I love your school. Keep working hard.”
Deputy Secretary Anthony Miller stayed for more briefing from School of One officials and watched the school’s 75-piece Symphony Orchestra perform as it rehearsed for Thursday night’s “Evening of the Arts” at Boody. Miller agreed to be interviewed by the student journalists.
Mr. Miller was asked how the students could get President Obama to visit them. He urged them to write a letter. When asked what he thought of the School of One, Mr. Miller said, “I thought it was excellent… I learned a lot today.”
Referring to the school’s concert and art show that evening, the deputy secretary said, “I like this balance.” He said the balance showed that arts are just as important as academics at the school.
Photos courtesy of the Department of Education