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MS 313 Redesign to Focus on Hands-On Learning in DUMBO

By Alexandra Leon | January 29, 2016 12:27pm | Updated on January 31, 2016 6:17pm
 School officials presented renderings of the redesigned MS 313, which will move to DUMBO in September.
The Dock Street School for STEAM Studies
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VINEGAR HILL — At the newly redesigned Dock Street School for STEAM Studies, students will be learning outside the classroom just as much as on the inside.

Satellite West Middle School (MS 313), which will be moving from Vinegar Hill to DUMBO in September, unveiled its redesign plans Thursday night at a meeting for parents and community members.

Part of that plan involves a new emphasis on collaborative, hands-on learning.

“We need to get out and explore,” principal Melissa Vaughan said.

Elective classes might take students out to Brooklyn Bridge Park to dip their toes in the water as they research marine life.

Students might see themselves working the box office and studying audience engagement at St. Ann’s Warehouse or making movies at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Steiner Studios through various internship opportunities. 

And through community partnerships with places like New York University, students could be tinkering with computers and building robots in a real science lab. 

The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum will also feature accelerated Regents classes, two foreign language programs in Spanish and French, and specialized high school exam preparation.

The school will offer special education services for students with disabilities or English language learners, including an autism spectrum disorder program.

Admission will be open to all students from District 13.

Renderings presented at Thursday’s meeting show a sleek new building with a large “gymnatorium” for after-school sports and a diner-style cafeteria.

On the bottom level, there will be a preschool that will have its own entrance, separate from the middle school.

The school, which is currently at 209 York St. across from the Farragut Houses, is moving to a Two Trees development at 19 Dock St. at Water Street.

While some local parents criticized the move when it was announced in October, saying they were promised a new school instead of the relocation of an existing one, several attended Thursday’s meeting to show their support as the redesign moves forward.

Maggie Spillane, a parent and member of the Community Education Council for District 13, said there was still work to be done as far as implementing the new programs, but she commended the Department of Education on the redesign.

“I think this shows a tremendous amount of work on the part of the district and the community, and a lot of listening on the part of the DOE,” Spillane said.

City education officials hope the move will grow the student population at the school, which currently has only 86 students and has faced shrinking enrollment.

The move will also give PS 307, which currently shares a building with MS 313, room to expand after it was recently rezoned to include incoming kindergarten students from DUMBO, another contentious DOE proposal that fired up debate over integration and diversity.

“I think for the most part everyone’s going to be happy,” said PS 307 PTA co-president Faraji Hanna-Jones. “I just hope the same opportunities will be there for all students.”