P.S. 372 The Children's School
BROOKLYN NY 11215 Map
P.S. 372 The Children's School
The Children’s School is one of the most popular schools in Brooklyn and one of the first to mix special needs with general education students in one classroom with two teachers, one of whom is trained in special education. The school has a good teacher-child ratio, a history of parent involvement, and a willingness to adapt lessons to challenge strong students while giving struggling students extra help.
Principal Arthur Mattia“Mr. Artie,” as kids call him–says he puts a premium on listening. “My ideas are shaped around what people are telling me,” he said. “Parents, staff and teachers are driving the school. They’re in the trenches every day.” He has been at the school since it was founded in 1992 and has been principal since 2004.
Some children have mild learning problems while others have severe emotional or academic difficulties. Some have high intelligence and unconventional behavior. Sixty percent are non-disabled. Staff say it’s important to stay open to new approaches and ideas. At the time of our visit teachers were engaged in parallel teaching. Two 5th-grade math groups of like ability, each with about ten students, sat on either end of one classroom. The teacher of one group reviewed expanded notation while the other had kids writing mixed numbers as improper fractions. Another recent effort is to offer more training to paraprofessionals (as teachers aides are called) and to catch reading issues in the early grades by giving those in need extra help five times a week.
The school is housed in two buildings separated by a play yard. Some early childhood rooms have high windows and kids can’t see out. Every corner of the building is put to use: two children worked with a teacher on a quiet stairwell landing; one child, who arrived at the school as a selective mute, was spelling words out loud to a group of peers in the hallway. A few yards away a teacher placed zig-zag lines of masking tape on the floor to offer a fast young learner a challenging measurement activity.
We heard teachers use confident, warm and supportive voices and saw engaged kids. A 2nd-grade teacher read aloud to her engrossed students then had them stop and jot down what they were thinking; kindergartners piped up from their positions on the rug to point out features of a non-fiction book; a dance teacher named, for her pre-K class, the geometric shapes they created as they moved to music with large stretchy bands.
A supportive, bully-free community is promoted. Older kids serve as “peacekeepers” at recess with younger children. Second grade teacher Steve Quester said his goal is to build a greater sense of “belonging, significance and fun” – tenets he is learning about in the Responsive Classroom approach to decreasing behavior problems.
An outpost of PS 372 in Fort Greene serves children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in six classrooms, each with six students and two adults. In 2009, when four of these children moved to the less restrictive site, teachers gathered for a session called “Conversations around Autism” to help ease the transition. The literacy coach, art teacher, testing coach, and District 75 assistant principal spend time at both sites, which lends continuity.
Many after school offerings include Spanish, gymnastics and Haitian Dance. Fourth and 5th-graders participate in “studios” like hip-hop and comic books on Friday afternoons.
Parents from PS 372 have been instrumental in bringing special education services to several middle and high schools in the neighborhood, according to Mattia. Students attend strong District 15 middle schools (MS 443 The New Voices School for Academic & Creative Arts, MS 51 William Alexander School) as well as noteworthy out of district schools (Mark Twain Middle School and NEST+M).
Admissions: The school is open to children from across District 15. The admissions lottery for general education students is split geographically between the northeastern half of the district (Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights and Cobble Hill) and the southwestern half (Red Hood and Sunset Park) with half of the available spaces for pre-K and kindergarten allocated to each half of the district. Open houses are January through March. Applications are accepted in January. There are far more applicants than spaces available. (Lydie Raschka, March 2011)
At a glance
Number of Students 187
Average Daily Attendance 96%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?NA 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?100% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class15 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?100% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?100% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?4% 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?97% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?97% 94% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
How well does this school serve students with disabilities?
This school does not offer self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school does not offer team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:80% 16% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:80% 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?