This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Explore Charter School3
Posted March 23, 2015
- a community member
EXPLORE Charter School (Please don't confuse it with "Excel Charter School", "Empower Charter School" and etc) used to be an outstanding school! Explore used to earn merit from New York City itself. The academics used to be amazing and the teachers were excellent. However, now Explore is a mediocre public school, sorry to say. I am an alumni of the school (currently a junior in high school) and I praise the school greatly for helping me get to where I am now but the recent move to MS2's building and the lack of discipline within the school has killed Explore's good name. In addition, I've noticed that although the teachings in Explore are better than other public schools it is not quite a "high school prep" education. I am currently in a selective high school preparatory program and I've learned more in one summer from my program than in 6+ months at Explore. If I was only in Explore there is a low chance that I would be in an independent private high school now. I know it is not easy but Explore needs to take charge of their education system and they need to control their students. Students need control not with fear and negative consequences but with positive reinforcements.
I taught for multiple years at Explore, and I think the recent one-star reviews were all written by the same disgruntled staff member. No, Explore is not perfect. However, my experience is that Explore has passionate, skilled staff who are dedicated to providing great education to their students. Previous posts talk about how there was no PTA. This is true. But the school administration can't create a PTA out of thin air! The weekly newsletter always had a message asking for parents to lead the PTA, but none came forward. This is disappointing, but it's not the fault of teachers or leaders. Past posts also talk about how a lot of teachers were fired. Yes, this is true. But from my experience, the teachers were fired for good reasons. If you're not trying to get better, you don't belong in front of students. No, they don't have a principal. Yes, this has been tough. But my assistant principal was always great, as was the director of operations. And the main office workers are amazing! Every classroom at Explore is not perfect, but they provide an above average educational experience for a neighborhood that desperately needs it.
Also replying to the person who had a recent phone interview... I agree with the previous responder. They will typically offer a salary nearly comparable to the DOE (sometimes a bit less), but you will be required to work much longer hours and more days. Your voice will not matter if you try to point out that something is not right in how children are being served. If you have no other job offers, at least make sure you ask for more than their first salary offer. There is money in the budget for this. (Years ago, there was a teacher rep on the board, and that person learned of those budget funds.) Last school year, four people from the support services team (out of six positions) resigned during the school year. The SS supervisor who was, in large part, responsible for those great teachers choosing to leave was promoted for this school year. While leadership is incompetent, you will adore the students. If you are an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate educator, you may feel frustrated with the school's values. They have at times hired first-year Teach for America (no experience or certification) teachers to serve Sp Ed kids, so they would be VERY lucky to have you!
Replying to the most recent comment. Salaries vary widely. Seems the general pay structure goes something like this: hire loads of Teach for America and 1st year teachers and pay them very little (less than DOE when you account for required hours worked). Teachers with experience sometimes get paid a bit more than DOE but sometimes get paid the same. Leadership favorites get paid quite a bit. Leadership gets paid WAY too much. The money that they save hiring so many 1st year teachers is used to line the pockets of leadership. And kids with behavioral issues ARE academically challenged. They act out because 1) that's their nature and 2) kids aren't respected at that school. Students are expected to respond to robotic commands (Slant, Level 0, etc). Kids who reject that level of control are set off by this school. There are no behavioral expectation modifications for kids w/ ED, for instance. At this point in the year you might not have options and you might just have to take the job if offered, but if you have options, stay away. Far away. And be pleasant to leadership, never question them, and just play the game... then get out next year. Good luck. I too was a support specialist.
I just had a phone interview with this school and was asked to come in to meet with a leadership team and walk them through a lesson. It is for an elementary learning specialist position..which is just another word for special education teacher. I am just curious about their special education program and what the average salary typically is. The comments that I have read for this past school year make me a little apprehensive about accepting a position. I have a lot of special education experience with a concentration in severely disabled. It was expressed to me during the interview that negative behavior occurs because that students are not being challenged enough. I was also curious about starting salary range. Any information would be greatly appreciated
I taught at Explore for multiple years. It used to be a community of experienced and quality teachers, strong family involvement, decent to good leadership, with a strong curricular vision (especially in math), and trust. This past year, Explore's community lost all of these things. We had no principal, no PTA, and saw a mass exodus of the teaching staff. Many staff members were fired throughout the year and the large number that are not returning left for various reasons, among them a lack of quality leadership (they were bosses and not leaders), little to no space for teacher independence and creativity, the emergence of co-teaching with a large class size (30 students), and a philosophical misalignment with the recent "no-excuses" approach of the school. I know that families in the community need Explore to be the place that it once was. No, they need it to be better than it was at its best. I encourage Explore families to create a PTA and continue to voice their concerns with leadership.
I worked at Explore during the 12-13 school year. I was directly out of grad school, fresh and eager to teach and make an impact on my students. The recruiters picked up on my passion for teaching and hired me. In fact, they were great at hiring great faculty who cared and wanted to grow as educators. Too bad they couldn't respect us. The "coaching" they deliver is demeaning and borders on workplace harassment. Any minute, you never know, they'll pop in your room and start typing away at their keyboard, later only to let you know everything you did wrong (according to their cultish rules that you are required to follow) and instruct you of your "next steps". Forget about wanting to develop into the teacher you want to be, full of your own idiosyncrasies, your own ideas, and your unique talents. Nope! Want to treat students as individuals? Nope, not allowed. And if you dare speak up, watch out...! Anyhow, I left the school when I discovered who my bosses would be the next year. They would follow the typically valued Explore person-in-charge prototype: inexperienced in both teaching and leadership and willing to act as a vehicle to deliver the head honcho's egotistical demands.
I taught at Explore for seven years (left in 2012). It is simply NOT the amazing school it used to be. FIFTEEN teachers left during the most recent school year, many quitting, others fired for myriad reasons. This alone is a major red flag for any prospective teacher thinking about accepting a job here. The leadership is uneven: some wonderful and passionate about empowering teachers to do their best. Many have MINIMAL teaching experience themselves and have forgotten what's important for educators and for students. There is NO principal; they went the entire year without one. Proficient and exemplary people leave Explore in droves because they are forced to comply with unnecessary, time consuming tasks that stem from an administration that, at its core, doesn't trust them. There also is no PTA: very concerning. Explore is an organization that is buckling under the pressure from higher-ups to achieve at all costs, regardless of the developmental appropriateness of the curricula. Gifted educators have passed through its doors and have left disillusioned with the profession, never wanting to step in a classroom again. Think very hard before accepting a position at this school.
Principle leadership should not be 5 stars especially there have not been a principle all school year. The school has changed principles 2 time while my child attends this school. This school has no direction, no leadership, not bad but needs improvement on their organization. I think the school could improve with better leadership, better teaching methods, reinforcement to the children having difficulty learning, tutoring programs as oppose to no one having time to provide extra. The children are not challenged much and it shows in each lower grade by the way they write (whether it is a story or just penmanship). This school was once great is slacking and needs improvement. Majority of the faculty cares though especially the ones in the office. I love the parental involvement and the children I have encountered are well mannered and seems eager to learn.
oh no, this place is horrible..the teachers are distant and cold..all they do is rush through lessons and eat pizza all day..there is no real focus or mission from anyone...DO NOTSEND YOUR CHILD HERE OR TO ANY RELATED SCHOOL..