Earth School

An Insideschools pick
600 EAST 6 STREET
MANHATTAN NY 10009 Map
Phone: (212) 477-1735
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 1, tour required
Principal: Abbe Futterman
Neighborhood: East Village
District: 1
Grade range: PK-5
Parent Coordinator: JOCELYN WALSH
Number of full-day PK seats: 36
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Unzoned
Full Day
School-based pre-k

What's special:

Rooftop garden, great arts and science, committed parents

The downside:

Small school means small budget and little administrative support

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

At the Earth School, children grow vegetables for the cafeteria on a rooftop garden and farm, tend to a fig tree in the yard, and learn to compost scraps and recycle. Through hands-on arts and science projects, they learn to be good citizens and stewards of the planet.

Parents bring their children to the classroom each morning and are welcome throughout the day. On our visit, the Parents Association room was buzzing: three dads and several moms put together folders for a prospective parent tour, planned the school auction and carried in risers for a graduation ceremony. Parents may attend weekly Town Hall meetings and chat with one another at “coffee Fridays.”

Abbe Futterman, a science teacher who has been at the school since its founding in 1992, became principal in 2014. On our visit, we were impressed by the quality of teaching and the high level of engagement of the students. The school devised its own discipline code, taking into account social-emotional needs, and was given a “Respect for All” award from the city in 2016 for offering a safe and supportive environment.

Most classes mix children of different ages: Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten are grouped together, as are 1st-2nd and 4th-5th grades. Only 3rd grade is a stand-alone year. Teachers say they get to know children well because they have them for two years. And students feel comfortable in the room, making for a smooth transition. The grouping also means older children get the chance to be “elders” and may help younger ones, the principal said. Many of the classrooms have at least two teachers. Older children are separated by grade for math.

Social studies projects may last an entire year, such as the 4th-5th grade study of immigration. Children visited Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum and Museo del Barrio to learn about immigration movements in the past  as well as today’s migrants from war-torn countries such as Syria. Children were asked to zero in on individual immigrant stories, and to tell a person’s story with a drawing, poem or map.  

Many art projects incorporate science, social studies and even math. A detailed mural and timeline about the lead in the water in Flint, Michigan took up much of a corridor. In another project, 1st- and 2nd-graders took field trips around the city, interviewed community workers and made models of landmarks from cardboard and papier mâché.

Classrooms are large, full of light and plants. There’s a full-time cooking teacher and a room dedicated to cooking—a great hands-on way to learn math. The smell of gingerbread baking filled the corridors on our visit.

The large building is shared amicably with PS 64 and Tompkins Square Middle School. Earth School occupies the first floor and ground floor. All have access to the rooftop garden.

The huge gymnasium is shared with the other two schools in the building; parents pay for the “coaches” because there isn’t a budget for a physical education teacher. The coaches focus on gender inclusion and body image as well as sports. Pre-k students go regularly to nearby Tomkins Square Park for recess and play.

The Earth School has long had a mix of children of different income levels and races, and the school community is determined to maintain that even as the neighborhood gentrifies, Futterman said.  “A school down the block shouldn’t be all black and brown kids while we’re a pretty good mix,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure that there is access for all.” In 2015, the city allowed the Earth School to set aside 45 percent of its seats to students learning to speak English and those who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The Earth School staff and parents have been in the forefront of the movement to opt out of state tests for 3rd- to 5th-graders. In 2015, more than half of the students did not take the state exams. “Most people opt out because they are against what standardized tests do for education as a whole,” said Futterman. There is minimal prep for the exams. “We feel kids are well-prepared because we teach the material that is being tested,” she said.

The school’s small size is an asset, because everyone knows everyone, but also a drawback, because fewer pupils means a smaller budget. The principal is the only administrator and there are no staff developers or coaches. Both classroom teachers and the principal said they would welcome more support.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is at least one ICT classroom on most grades with two teachers. Small group support is offered to all students.

ADMISSIONS: Lottery, District 1. Preference to siblings. There is sometimes space for out-of-district students in the upper grades, although not in pre-k or kindergarten. Forty percent of kindergarten seats are set aside for children with limited English proficiency or those who qualify for free or reduced lunch. (Pamela Wheaton, March 2016)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with PS 64 and Tompkins Square Middle School

Number of Students 340

Average Daily Attendance 94%

Students at this school

Asian

  
7%

Black

  
13%

Hispanic

  
35%

White

  
37%

Free Lunch

  
46%

Special ed

  
24%

English Language Learners

  
6%

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?

100% 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?

94% 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

49% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

58% 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?

59% 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?

100% 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?

91% 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:

0% 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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