Posts tagged "Song and Dance"
December 22, 2010
At 9:30 this morning, the principal of the Ron Brown Academy in Brooklyn stood in her school’s auditorium, watching a fight break out.
Across from her, a tall girl in a tight pink shirt slapped at the girl in front of her. Three other girls grabbed the tall one’s arms and kicked at her legs. The girls broke apart as two boys doing cartwheels chased them off stage.
The principal, Celeste Douglas, broke into applause. She was watching the teenagers — who had grins plastered to their faces, and whose fight moves had been carefully choreographed by their teachers — perform their winter dance routine.
“Music makes me feel free,” said Justin, one of the dancers, after the performance. He is a seventh grader at Ron Brown, a middle school in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Music has also provided the school with an opportunity to improve its test scores, boost attendance and jump off the state’s watch list.
An unusual solution
When Douglas first arrived at Ron Brown Academy in 2006, she found a school in crisis.
Attendance hovered just above 80 percent, students performed poorly on standardized tests, and the previous spring, state officials had put the school on the SURR list of the lowest performing schools in New York. Douglas had three years to improve the school or risk seeing it shut down.
Faced with low performance and small budgets, other schools have cut extra programming and reinforced ELA and math skills. “One of the first things to get cut in schools is the arts program. I felt a lot of pressure to do the same thing,” Douglas said today, sitting in her office, a space decorated with pictures of her students’ performances and trophies of their successes.