PS 397 Spruce Street School
MANHATTAN NY 10038 Map
PS 397 Spruce Street School
Extended PK hours offered: Please contact site for more information
Spruce Street School opened in 2009 to serve East Tribeca’s growing family community. Housed in the first five floors of a dazzling skyscraper designed by architect Frank Gehry, it has a cafeteria that could be mistaken for a trendy Tribeca eatery, a padded roof-top playground and a state-of-the-art auditorium. The school will span pre-kindergarten through 8th grade by the 2017-2018 school year.
Teachers use effective techniques to promote student independence. In a pre-k class, the teacher asked a child to dismiss his classmates to clay, blocks, dress-up and watercolor activities. Students take turns leading assemblies, and teach their peers how to stay safe in cold weather, or how to compost, among other topics.
Children's ability to work independently and purposefully frees the teachers up to work with individuals and small groups. Social studies is a centerpiece, and some students said it was their favorite subject; a child said his class visited a synagogue in Chinatown as part of a unit on immigration.
Math and science are particularly strong. The core math session is 45-60 minutes, but math is taught “across the day,” according to founding principal Nancy Harris. Morning “tabletop” math games build problem-solving speed and help kids understand concepts that need work. “Number talk,” often after lunch, is geared toward helping children strengthen their ability to do “mental math”—computing in their heads.
Every child visits the science lab weekly to participate in studies of the teachers’ own design, such as a 1st-grade bird study and a 3rd-grade paleontology unit. Reports on classroom walls are refreshing for the fact that they were handwritten, had “voice” and highlighted ideas rather than gimmicky computer fonts.
As a group, the staff seems to place a high priority on generating meaningful discussion. A lower grade teacher sparked dialogue by teaching children to inject phrases like, “I agree …” or “Like Josh said …." During a discussion of the novel The Little Prince, a 5th grade teacher asked, “Can you thirst for things other than water?” A child answered, “You can thirst for invisible things, like friendship or love.” Another said, “You can thirst for power and money.”
Parents pay for dance lessons from the National Dance Institute and for a full-time librarian. They say that they appreciate the fact that they are invited into classrooms on a regular basis.
One downside: The school is in a congested, busy traffic area across from a hospital and a new parking garage.
Special education: Team-taught classes in some grades, mixing general education and special needs children with two teachers, one of whom has a degree in special education.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. There is one full-day pre-k that fills up with siblings of children who already attend the school. (Lydie Raschka, October 2014; updated August 2016)
At a glance
Number of Students 443
Average Daily Attendance 96%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?10% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?95% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class23 22 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class24 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average middle school english classNA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?100% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?100% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?6% 21% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam
Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam
Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam
Percent of 8th 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?93% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?90% 93% 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 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:43% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:36% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:75% 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:75% 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?