Ann Street School of Mathematics
Ann Street School of Mathematics and Science lives up to its reputation as a 1999 National Blue Ribbon School. This neighborhood school serves students in prekindergarten through grade 8. On its website, the school highlights its students' performance on state assessments, their daily attendance rate of 94 percent, and the school’s low incidences of violence and vandalism.
The National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA) identified Ann Street as a "high performer" in 2005, highlighting its programs in computer literacy, world languages and math. NCEA also noted Ann Street's stellar reputation. Teachers often apply directly to the school, which allows school staff to select from a wide pool of applicants. A culture of improving instruction pervades the school. Ann Street's literacy coach has participated in the AFT's ER&D (educational research and dissemination) program’s Making Data Work for You training. And together, teachers analyze student data and discuss instructional strategies. Teachers are supported by science and math coaches, resource teacher coordinators, and the district’s Teacher Assistance Program. Additionally, they learn from each other by observing peers who do a terrific job teaching literacy.
“The classroom teachers are my guardian angels,” says Eddie Monteiro, Ann Street’s music teacher. His colleagues offer their help and insight when Monteiro works with students on their writing. At the school, teachers in art, music and science assign monthly papers in which students must write a one- to two-page story on a particular topic. Students write rough drafts, then meet with their art, music and science teachers to discuss their papers and how to improve them. Monteiro, who teaches music to the kindergarten through fourth-grade classes, says the papers give him a better understanding of students’ academic abilities, as well as provide him an opportunity to discuss students’ progress with classroom teachers.
Several of the school's programs allow students to improve their problem-solving skills. These include Project 3D-VIEW (Virtual Interactive Environmental Worlds), which covers interdisciplinary science; the Weather Data Learning Center, which provides students with first-hand scientific data; and Signals of Spring, a NASA-funded program that allows students to track bird and sea mammal migration. Each class also participates in the Read a Thousand Books challenge that supports literacy development in an exciting way.
Besides focusing on academics, Ann Street emphasizes the importance of community involvement. The Home and School Association, a parent organization with enrollment that exceeds the school's student population, participates in school initiatives and provides extensive financial support.
Monteiro attests to the high level of parental involvement at the school, and says that parents support teachers and don’t hesitate to meet with them if, say, students don’t do their homework or don’t pay attention in class. He has taught at the school for seven years, and like many teachers at Ann Street, he grew up in the mostly Portuguese neighborhood. In this neighborhood, “there’s a tremendous amount of pride,” he says.
There’s also great pride among graduates of the school. Recently, Ann Street alumni donated 1,000 books to the school's new library. In addition, the New Jersey Tree Foundation partnered with the student council in a tree planting project. In 2010, Ann Street students received numerous honors, including awards for community service and essay writing. Such achievements clearly show that students are living up to the school’s motto: "Be responsible, be respectful, and get a good education."
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