P.S. 186 Castlewood
QUEENS NY 11426 Map
P.S. 186 Castlewood
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
PS 186 feels like a suburban school. Part of that springs from its setting in a neighborhood of garden apartments and the Queens County Farm Museum, the only working historical farm in New York City. But the school's small size—about 370 students in a building that once had more than 1,000—and its warm, inclusive atmosphere also distinguish it from many city schools.
Meeting individual students’ needs is an integral part of the PS 186 curriculum. While all the children benefit from this focus on personal attention, the school is unusual for what it offers students with disabilities, particularly autism-related disorders. PS 186 was the first school in Queens to have an ASD NEST program for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Students with ASD learn in a classroom alongside typically developing children, taught by two teachers who have been trained in the program’s specialized curriculum and teaching strategies.
Principal Dolores Troy-Quinn says that when she arrived in 2002, special education and general education students were largely separate. Today all but one of PS 186's 21 classes are inclusive, with two team-teaching classes in every grade except pre-K having some NEST students. A third class per grade has students with other disabilities, including some from the District 75 program. The staff has grown from 21 teachers to 68, and every classroom has at least two teachers. Troy-Quinn believes that, along with academic benefits, inclusion helps create "citizens who are caring, compassionate and considerate of others."
Classes offer accommodations intended primarily for children with disabilities but available to anyone. Many have break corners, and in some rooms students can put partitions around their desks to screen out distractions. We saw one staff member watching as a girl with severe ADD jumped rope in the hall until she could return to class. The school has five speech therapists and three occupational therapists.
The small class size—16 to 20 in the NEST classes—enables PS 186 to gear work to individual students' abilities. The school has a small program for high achievers in which students leave their regular classroom for a few hours a week to do special projects. This year, fourth graders identified a problem in their community and will come up with an invention to address it.
Our visit coincided with a literacy period for many classes during which students concentrated on their books and participated in classroom discussions. A fourth-grade teacher helped students visualize words. After first graders finished a group math exercise, one boy pronounced it a "three-bear day…the best morning so far." The teacher agreed.
PS 186 offers visual art, music and theater, although it does not have dedicated arts rooms. For eight weeks a year, students spend Wednesday afternoons in "enrichment clusters." Teachers create classes in an area of their expertise, and students chose between them.
The school is friendly, with staff and teachers quick to welcome visitors and praise the school. Two mothers leaving a parent workshop on how children learn were enthusiastic. "We need more of this," one said. The workshop had persuaded them that engaging learners requires more than “just putting facts in their heads."
Most PS 186 graduates go on to one of two zoned middle schools: MS 172 or MS 67. After leaving PS 186 they may not get the kind of individual attention they enjoyed in elementary school. But Troy-Quinn says, "For the moment and time that they're here, we're giving the kids what they need." Afterward, she hopes they can take what they learned at PS 186 and apply it on their own.
Admissions: The NEST program and other special education programs accept students from throughout Queens. Virtually all general education students live in the school's zone. (Gail Robinson, December 2012; updated with information about the Nest Program by Pauline Zaldonis, August 2013)
At a glance
Number of Students 385
Average Daily Attendance 95%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?92% 81% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?53% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?13% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam
Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
Does the school encourage family involvement?
How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the last school year?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
How well does this school serve students with disabilities?
This school offers self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:33% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:33% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:71% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:45% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?
How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?
How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?