P.S. 307 Luisa Pineiro Fuentes School of Science and Discovery
BRONX NY 10468 Map
P.S. 307 Luisa Pineiro Fuentes School of Science and Discovery
With two full-time science teachers, PS 307 offers a much richer science curriculum than most elementary schools. Children do experiments in class three times a week and go on regular trips to the American Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Botanic Garden, or Green Meadow Farm in Queens.
The school does a particularly good job teaching English to new immigrants, and teachers and administrators say science is the secret to their success. “Even if they are not English-speaking, they can do the experiments,” said science teacher Christine Dieckmann. “It helps them learn the language.”
Children may study the life cycle of butterflies, or learn about gravity by rolling marbles down ramps, or find out about heat transfer by warming pennies in their hands (and comparing them to cold pennies they haven’t touched). They make electrical circuits with wires and batteries, scratch different minerals to find out which is the hardest, and study live ants in housed in classroom ant farms.
Children pick up academic vocabulary by talking to one another about the experiments. For example, a child who doesn’t speak English may use a balance in class, and learn the word “balance” in the process.
“Having the experiments in groups helps a great deal, because they have conversations, they use vocabulary,” said assistant principal Debra Springsteen. A struggling reader may be withdrawn in most classes, but come alive in science. “A child who can’t read—you’ll see a different version of that child in science class,” she said.
Arthur Horan, who teaches science to the younger children, was a museum educator at the American Museum of Natural History. Dieckman, who teaches the older children, was a middle school science teacher.
Classroom teachers and science specialists work together to help make sure children learn to read well. “We’re not just teaching science, we’re teaching literacy,” said Principal Yolanda Valez. “It’s not just about experiments, it’s about reading non-fiction.”
PS 307 has solid programs in reading, social studies and math as well as science. While some schools have spelling bees, PS 307 has a “multiplication bee” to see how well children can do word problems quickly. A theater class teaches children different versions of the Cinderella story—Chinese, Mexican and American. There are some traditional touches: children recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day. They also learn ballroom dancing.
The school has better than average test scores, despite the fact that most child are poor enough to qualify for free lunch, the vast majority speak Spanish at home, and several dozen are homeless. Valez says attendance is better than average because she warns parents against taking their children to their home countries for extended vacations—a common practice among some immigrants.
“I come down on them pretty hard,” she says. “When you have a job, you don’t tell your boss you can’t come. It’s the same with school.” Sometimes if parents have to go, she helps arrange for the children to stay with another family and continue school. Office staffers call parents individually when kids miss school—and don’t use the automatic robo-calls that some schools employ.
Another reason the school is successful: most children start in pre-kindergarten, rather than kindergarten or first grade, as is common in many low-income neighborhoods where parents prefer to keep their children in full-day child care until school is obligatory.
Housed in a former synagogue, the building has cramped, windowless classrooms, narrow hallways and no playground. Instead of going out to play for recess, children watch videos in the cafeteria. Despite the limited facilities, the school is popular among parents and usually has a waiting list. The schools is named for the founding principal who died in March 2012.
Middle school choices include Eagle Academy, Jonas Bronck Academy and MS 244. Some children attend “Summer on the Hill,” a year-round enrichment program for disadvantaged youth at Horace Mann, a private school in Riverdale.
Special education: The school offers self-contained classes, team teaching, and special education teacher support services (SETSS). Rather than take children out of class, SETSS teachers offer extra help in children’s ordinary classroom.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. Register early. There is always a waiting list for kindergarten. In recent years, children who registered late were assigned to other schools in the neighborhood. There are occasionally open seats in the upper grades. (Clara Hemphill, December 2013)
At a glance
Number of Students 393
Average Daily Attendance 95%
Safety & vibe
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?60% 81% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?68% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?14% 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?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?
This school offers self-contained classes.
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:0% 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:13% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:0% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:0% 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?