fahari academy charter school

double take

New York

With clock ticking, a charter school tries to turn itself around

Fahari Academy Charter School opened the school year with many new teachers and administrators as part of an effort to improve quickly. Last month, Radha Radkar expressed her excitement for a new year at Fahari Academy Charter School by discussing a task that, for most teachers, is an annual rite. “I’m decorating my own classroom,” said Radkar, a second-year English teacher. For Radkar and her Fahari colleagues, however, it was an unknown luxury. Last year, teachers didn't have their own classroom and had little time to prepare for their lessons. Instead it was teachers who rotated — while students stayed put — a small, but significant component of a broader culture that staff said contributed to the school's demise. Much has changed this year at Fahari as part of a comprehensive attempt to keep the school from closing. On Aug. 27, the Department of Education officially placed it on probation, primarily because of the sky-high teacher and student attrition rates that have plagued the school since it opened in 2009. Radkar said the school was anticipating the probation notice for months and had spent the summer  preparing to open with many new programs and policies. Now, they have less than a year to show the school is taking steps to improve. By Monday, the school must submit an improvement plan detailing the changes underway at the school. "We are definitely in the middle of transition," said Radkar, who helped develop new reading and writing curriculum over the summer. "At the same time, our leadership is trying to figure out a direction this year."
New York

Hoping to please parents, school introduces real-time polling

New York

Holiday feast in Flatbush unifies a district and charter school

In some shared school buildings, district and charter schools struggle over scarce resources. In Flatbush, they are sharing their bounty. Fahari Academy Charter School and M.S. 246, Walt Whitman Middle School, held a potluck holiday dinner Wednesday in their shared gymnasium. The event, billed as a showcase for the schools' working relationship, comes as the year's fights over new co-locations start to heat up. Fahari and Walt Whitman staff enjoying the food choices at a joint holiday potluck. The walls were spruced up with red drapes, silver tinsel, and strings of lights, and long tables decorated with poinsettias and silver candelabras were set in a semi-circle to encourage mingling between the schools. A deejay kept a holiday playlist going as attendees selected from dozens of buffet options, heaping their plates with jerk chicken, baked ziti, and curried goat. Catina Venning, Fahari’s executive director, and Bently Warrington, Walt Whitman’s principal, said they hope that the respectful relationship they have worked to establish will trickle down to staff and students. While this is the first shared holiday party, the schools have worked together on other initiatives, including a community cleanup last June. The event was planned by a committee made up of two representatives from each school. The vision was a winter wonderland and the responsibilities were split between the schools: Walt Whitman took on most of the cooking and Fahari focused on the decorations. Fahari opened in the M.S. 246 building in 2009. During the co-location's first two years, as Fahari expanded from fifth to sixth grade, the schools experienced some kinks as the two leaders adjusted to each other’s styles and established protocols for divvying up common facilities. Fahari also experienced difficulties of its own, including a D on the city's progress report and concerns about school culture that led to a successful unionization effort by its teachers. “In the beginning, it was difficult, I’m not going to lie,” Venning said.
New York

Unusual outcome for Fahari's unionizing teachers: Recognition