PS 307 Pioneer Academy
QUEENS NY 11368 Map
PS 307 Pioneer Academy
Moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and grandparents walk their children hand-in-hand to a tree-lined courtyard outside PS 307’s front door. They check shoelaces and affix barrettes before bestowing a kiss and a wave. Housed in a stylish updated fabric factory, where two streets meet under the 7 train, PS 307 is a promising, rapidly growing school with many Ecuadorian and Mexican children, a place where young teachers are learning alongside their students. Opened in 2008 to relieve overcrowding in nearby schools, the school quickly filled to capacity and, unfortunately, typically has one of the longest wait lists for kindergarten in the city.
Students wear maroon plaid jumpers or gray slacks and polo shirts. The atmosphere, like the glossy jade-green interior, is soothing and warm. Founding Principal Cecilia Jackson is a former special education teacher from PS 155 who taught briefly at Harlem Success Academy 1 and the Bronx Charter School for the Arts before attending The Summer Principal’s Academy at Columbia University. “Walk, walk, my love,” she chided a child, hugging another who brought her a bouquet of roses.
Parents are welcomed. The principal does not speak Spanish, but many of the staff do, and translators are present at meetings. Parent coordinator Maria Caraballo was born and raised in the neighborhood and plans over 100 workshops throughout the year on topics like finances, fire safety, alcohol abuse and library use. Dozens of parents have trained to become Learning Leaders to support teachers in classrooms and some assist daily at breakfast, lunch, or recess. A 2nd-grade parent transferred her child from another area school because of this welcoming policy: “It attracted me,” she said. “You don’t want to always leave your kid at the door. You want to be able to come in.”
Children have access to the huge gym once or twice a week, where they dance with gusto to pumping music. Kids watch movies in the auditorium on even moderately cold days, which seems to contradict the healthy message the school is trying to convey through nutrition programs brought in by Cornell University Cooperative Extension and the CookShop Program of the Food Bank of NYC. (The principal later told us that, because parents don't wish their children to play outdoors during cold weather, the school has a practice of keeping students in when the temperature is below 40 degrees.) Music has replaced art at the request of parents, many of whom are musicians who showcase their talents on culture days.
The building is temporarily shared with five 5th grade classrooms from PS 16. They seem to get along well and even buddy up for reading but Jackson wonders if her school will have room to grow. PS 307 classes were completely full at the time of our visit, 29 per room, and most had just one teacher. Students sat packed like sardines on a rug from which they broke into small groups for individual work at tables. We saw lessons on fact versus opinion, writing, and learning to visualize while reading. Teachers defined big abstract words like “visualize.” Our articulate 2nd-grade tour guides, Victor and Natalia, proudly showed off the live Komodo Dragon in the science room and habitat murals. “We learned that some oil went into the ocean but oil and water don’t go together and now there’s damage,” said Natalia.
About one-third of the children qualify for English as a Second Language. The young teaching staff is learning how to help students improve their English using thematic units. In a pre-kindergarten room the theme was “Feet,” An entire mini shoe store was set up in the play area. Consultants come in twice a week and help with the curriculum, which is somewhat in flux. Staff may pick and choose from two math programs (Everyday Math and TERC Investigations). One downside: according to the DOE’s annual 2009-10 Quality Review, the writing program could be stronger.
Special Education: In 2010-11 there were two small classrooms with only special needs children. Three rooms mixed special and general education students with two teachers, one of whom is trained to teach special education.
Admissions: Zoned neighborhood school. (Lydie Raschka, March 2011)
At a glance
Number of Students 984
Average Daily Attendance 97%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?9% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?98% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class25 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class32 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?80% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?78% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?4% 22% 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?79% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?95% 94% 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:13% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:31% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:17% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:0% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 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?