Grantee Corner  |  Community School Districts 13 and 15



Four male students wearing lab coats stand around a presentation board
PS 307 students present their science experiment results

A male student dressed in a traditional Chinese outfit hits a drum a girl is holding
PS 307 students participate in a multicultural celebration

Two students construct a building out of 3D paper shapes
PS 307 students participate in an engineering and design activity

A female student pours fertilizer into a bucket
PS 54 students work in a garden

A group of students handle a potted plant
PS 15 students work with plants

A group of students standing looking at a garden plot
PS 15 students check out the school garden

A group of students place paper shapes on white pages
PS 15 students create artwork in class

A group of students sit a table with books and notebooks
PS 54 students research the harvesting of rainwater

A group of students build skyscrapers using cardboard boxes
PS 46 students design skyscrapers

Headshot of Joseph Gallagher
Joseph Gallagher, Districts 13-15 Project Director

New York City Community School Districts 13 and 15 established a consortium to implement a 2013-16 Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grant. Each school district is a large urban district that serves diverse communities in Brooklyn, New York. District 13 consists of 43 elementary, middle, and high schools, with a total districtwide enrollment of 22,517 students in grades prekindergarten through 12, while District 15 has 28,448 prekindergarten through grade 12 students in its 47 elementary, middle, and high schools.

Both District 13 and District 15 have successfully implemented past MSAP projects and are building on that success to implement four new magnet schools.  District 13 has three of the four MSAP schools and serves as the lead district in the consortium. The goal of the program is to reduce minority group isolation among Hispanics at each magnet school, and the schools are creating rigorous theme-based instructional programs aimed at increasing diversity while promoting student achievement. In addition to a special magnet curriculum theme, each school's program contains a STEM component. The MSAP project can cite a number of achievements, most notably a level of parent and community interest in the magnet schools that resulted in all four schools exceeding their magnet application targets in grant year one. Other program highlights include the creation of magnet partnerships as integral parts of the schools’ instructional programs, renewed enthusiasm, and greater collaboration among magnet school staff.

PS 15 is a school of 392 students located in the Red Hook community. Through the MSAP grant, it has become Patrick F. Daly Magnet School of the Arts and is integrating a schoolwide arts theme with Common Core standards and the Blueprint for the Arts. The magnet specialists, school staff, and partners such as Studio-in-a-School, Marquis Studio, Young Audiences, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus provide PS 15 students with art, music, dance, and theater instruction, culminating in a year-end Festival of the Arts for the school community. PS 15 is also creating a new science lab to bolster its delivery of STEM education.

PS 46 is implementing a magnet theme of communications and media arts through applied learning for its 417 students in the Fort Greene neighborhood.  Among other theme-based activities, partnerships with JDL Horizons, Salvadori, Behind the Book, and the University of Connecticut’s Schoolwide Enrichment Model (UCONN/SEM) have provided enriched instruction, allowing the school to facilitate theme integration across all content areas, along with an emphasis on STEAM and differentiated instruction. Project-based learning is a key element of the PS 46 magnet program, and the magnet work is showcased for parents and families at project-based learning fairs and magnet curriculum celebrations.

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, PS 54 has adopted a magnet theme of environmental science, technology, and community wellness. Intensive magnet curriculum development, focusing on environmental, health, and STEM applications, has led to student work that is shared with the school community at numerous events. Classes use the magnet curriculum to study the environment and work on ways to improve it while gaining an appreciation of teamwork and of personal and community wellness. PS 54 serves 251 students; magnet partners include the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Clearwater, the Cooper- Hewitt Museum, and the Brooklyn Public Library.

At PS 307, the Magnet School for STEM Studies, the magnet theme is being delivered to the school’s 370 students through discrete STEM programs and residencies, integrated curriculum units across core academic areas, and enrichment clusters based on the Schoolwide Enrichment Model.  The school has accessed partnerships with UCONN/SEM and OMNiLEARN to support successful implementation of the STEM theme, as well as the necessary professional and curriculum development. 

PS 307 also partners with Flocabulary, a techology firm from the adjacent DUMBO neighborhood, to produce Big Idea Week. During this week students are exposed to technology, engineering, problem solving, and entrepreneurship concepts and then use those concepts to create their own “Big Idea” projects. The MSAP project and PS 307 will soon be starting a new partnership with the NYU Poly School of Engineering to bring additional STEM resources to the magnet program.

The Districts 13-15 MSAP project is managed by Joseph Gallagher, the project director, as part of the New York City Department of Education Office of School Improvement-Office of State and Federal Education Policy. Mr. Gallagher has extensive experience as a junior high school teacher and district-level administrator. He has worked with several magnet programs, all in Brooklyn, since 1998. The project’s district-level planner and curriculum specialist is Josephine Cohen.  A former elementary school teacher, magnet resource specialist and school-based program coordinator, Ms. Cohen has been part of a district-level magnet team since 2012.

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