Hamilton Heights School

An Insideschools pick
1750 AMSTERDAM AVENUE
MANHATTAN NY 10031 Map
Phone: (212) 862-9940
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 6/lottery
Principal: Michelle Herbowy
Neighborhood: Harlem
District: 6
Grade range: K-5
Parent Coordinator: BERTILIA DIAZ
Unzoned

What's special:

Hands-on learning, parents are welcome

The downside:

Shared space is a challenge; test scores have a way to go & rapid turnover of principals

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Tiny Hamilton Heights Academy emphasizes social awareness, respect and a welcoming school culture. Each Friday there is a vibrant schoolwide sing-along that incorporates many songs devoted to social awareness and community. The school embraces diversity, and school administrators and the parent coordinator reach out to local nursery and day-care programs to build their diverse student body. 

Hamilton Heights began in 2002 as a program at PS 28. In 2007 it gained official status as a K-5 school, PS 368 Hamilton Heights School. In 2010 HHS moved about 20 blocks south and now shares space with PS 153. Hallways are clean and bright, and the overall tone is inviting. The shared space has presented some facility challenges: because of restricted gym and play-yard access, physical education often takes place in the classroom or at the nearby Riverbank complex. The street outside the school is closed to traffic during school hours for Play Street, and children may play outside at recess. There is no physical education teacher but there is a fulltime dance teacher and dance classes take place in what used to be the science room. The downside is that there is no longer a dedicated science room or teacher but the administration and staff make the most of the space they have and are grateful that, rather than being split between two buildings, grades K-5 now are housed under one roof on the second floor.

All children get music lessons and learn to speak either Chinese or Arabic, thanks to a grant from Global Language Projects. They get two 45 minute foreign language classes a week.

The school has a progressive academic approach with an emphasis on project-based learning. Teachers have successfully created an open and collaborative learning environment. On our visit, some classrooms were a little disorganized and at times the pace seemed a bit slow, but overall students were engaged and happy. The school strives to develop creative thinkers, who are self-motivated and share responsibility for their learning. On the day of our visit one teacher was highlighting the importance of self-editing, and many classrooms were engaged in group activities.

There has been a turnover in principals since the school's move: Alva Buxenbaum who set progressive academic goals with an increased focus on rigor, was head of the school from 2007 to 2011. In 2011, Nicky Kram Rosen, who previously worked in District 3 and at the Department of Education's gifted and talented office, became principal. She left in 2013 for a position in a network of Brooklyn schools and in September 2013, Valerie Valentine, who was a special education administrator at the network which supported Hamilton Heights, became interim acting principal. She left in August 2014 and was replaced by Michelle Herbowy, formerly executive director of instruction for the Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners at Tweed.

Herbowy is "guiding and coaching the teachers is a way that is paying off in remarkable ways," according to the parent of a 1st grader. "She's helping the new teachers with their classroom management, and all the teachers with getting the new DOE requirements well-integrated into their teaching."

Parent Coordinator Bertilia Diaz is likewise full of energy and available to parents.  Family potlucks are part of the school culture, along with the well-attended sing-alongs. Parents actively fundraise for additional programming and supplies, and contributed to a grant that brought an art program to the school. In addition to the PA, Friends of Hamilton Heights holds nonprofit status and raises money, with events such as talent shows.

Fourth and 5th graders went to the Broadway show "Newsies" and spoke with the cast after the play.

English Language Learners: Approximately 15 percent of the Hamilton Heights students are English language learners. Two classroom teachers are certified to teach English as a Second Language; a full-time ESL and special ed certified teacher, serve children in small groups outside the classroom.

Special Education:  Students receive services within the classroom and in small groups when necessary. There are no self-contained special education classes. The school has a reading recovery teacher, a part-time speech therapist, and a learning specialist. Students in need of occupational therapy receive services outside of school. A guidance counselor is on site two days per week and helps families arrange for services.

After school: Road to success, play and homework help, snacks and recreation.

Admissions: Open to all District 6 students with priority to siblings of current students. In recent yearsz, parents or caregivers were required to attend a tour of Hamilton Heights and then complete an application. The school holds monthly tours on Fridays. See the website for more information. (Sharon McCann-Doyle, April 2011; updated November 2014)

 

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with PS 153

Number of Students 216

Average Daily Attendance 93%

Students at this school

Asian

  
5%

Black

  
19%

Hispanic

  
58%

White

  
15%

Free Lunch

  
77%

Special ed

  
11%

English Language Learners

  
16%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

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?

29% 81% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

6% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

20% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

25% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

20% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

66% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 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?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

88% 93% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

79% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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