P.S. 69 Journey Prep School
BRONX NY 10473 Map
P.S. 69 Journey Prep School
With its striking, sun-drenched library and flourishing vegetable garden, PS 69 Journey Prep is an inviting place to go to school. Together teachers and the principal work hard to devise strategies to energize and engage students who live in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
At a time when many schools use scripted lesson plans, Principal Sheila Durant says she values spontaneity and leaves many decisions to her teachers, who pick and choose from various programs. Teachers work with four coaches -- two in math and two in reading -- and advise one another on what works in the classroom. In the lower grades, teachers can opt for the Reggio Emilia method, which seeks to harness children's curiosity to help them learn.
PS 69 developed a reputation for being a high-quality school in a tough neighborhood under the previous principal, Alan Cohen. Cohen retired in 2010 but the school's energy and commitment to its students has continued under Durant, who had been the assistant principal. It is a school where the custodian builds a bridge for students to use in science experiments and where two teachers spent the previous evening putting together an engaging video for the next day's class
Writing is key, even for kindergartners. Students are expected to read independently by the end of kindergarten. Those who don't may be held back, although efforts are made to bring the child along without that. "If any child isn’t learning, we need to do something different," Durant says. The school also provides extra math for high-performing students.
Children read a lot of nonfiction, with social studies incorporated into the reading program. Many lessons are interdisciplinary,
On the day we visited, PS 69 was marking National Kale Day. For 4th graders, this involved a trip to the school's garden with the science teacher to record their observations of kale plants (and to discover how, when dried, the vegetable turned into tasty kale chips). Younger children read books about vegetables and wore silly kale hats. One class whipped up a batch of kale juice.
Durant strives to bring a range of experiences to children who might otherwise not have them. A chef comes in once a week to work with students. There is an archery program, and an etiquette class for 5th graders culminates with a sit-down dinner in the library.
The school also has counselors and other staff to help students who may come from troubled homes. It offers peer mediation, where 5th graders try to help students resolve conflicts. Students are repeatedly reminded to be kind to one another. "I want them to be smart but I also want them to be good citizens, good people," Durant said.
Along with the garden, the heart of the school is its vibrantly colored, well-equipped library, created with the help of a $2 million donation from the Robin Hood Foundation. But the school facility has limitations. While grades 3 through 5 are in the main building, kindergarten and 1st grade occupy an annex adjacent to the school, and pre-K and 2nd grade use rented space a half block away. The school does not have a gym so has set up a fitness room.
Special education: PS 69 has team teaching classes that mix general and special education students and two self-contained classes. Durant, a former special education teacher, says she tries to move children out of the self-contained classes, even if they require help from a paraprofessional in the more mainstream classrooms.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. (Gail Robinson, October 2013)
At a glance
Number of Students 589
Average Daily Attendance 92%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?5% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?97% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class25 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class26 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?92% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?92% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?30% 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?74% 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 offers self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:0% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:3% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:19% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:5% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:56% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:11% 7% 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?