P.S. 54 Samuel C. Barnes
BROOKLYN NY 11205 Map
P.S. 54 Samuel C. Barnes
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Students at PS 54 figure out how to make water filters, plant outdoor gardens and explore science in an inviting science lab and around the city as part of the school’s Environmental Science, Technology & Community Wellness magnet grant. Fitness is also a focus at this small school which has been cited by the city for its healthy school environment. Children enjoy playing in the indoor gym and planting trees in the expansive playgrounds outside the building.
Partnerships with community and environmental organizations bring in much-needed resources to this Bedford-Stuyvesant school where most students qualify for free lunch. Children go on trips with the Hudson River Stoop-Clearwater and to the Alley Pond Environmental Center, and Brooklyn Botanic Gardens where they learn to compost. Several classrooms have tanks with fish and turtles.
PS 54 students benefit from small classes; there are only about 20 students on average in each of two classrooms on every grade. The downside is that the school’s population has been shrinking as the neighborhood changes. Many Hasidic families have moved into the neighborhood who don’t send their children to public school. PS 54 uses both its magnet program and a Spanish dual language program to attract families from outside the zone.
Principal Anthony Pirro came to the school in 2015, replacing a longtime principal and bringing in fresh ideas. A scientist in his former career, he became somewhat of a data expert but decided he didn’t like spending so much time in the lab. He changed careers and became an elementary school teacher in nearby District 16, then was assistant principal for eight years at PS 503 in District 20. His goal is to bring to PS 54 some of the same diversity and vibrant arts that are a hallmark in that school.
“I’d like this to become a microcosm of New York City diversity,” he said.
He faces some challenges and a very different population at PS 54. In addition to low enrollment, student test scores are way below city average and, as a newcomer to the school, Pirro must convince longtime staffers of the need for change. He uses data—on the test scores and some safety concerns that predated his arrival—to bolster his case for the need to “lift the rigor.” “What we were doing wasn’t working,” he said.
Pirro is instituting a restorative discipline process which is more supportive than punitive of students who misbehave. He is actively seeking arts partners and working on building a “strong home-school connection”. Parents are invited to walk their children into the pre-k, kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms now located on the first floor and stay for awhile. There are monthly coffees with him and publishing parties where students read their work. The school technology lab, gym and art room are open to family use every Tuesday afternoon.
In the classroom, staff developers from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project work with teachers. Children go on field trips related to their units of study: pre-k students tour the Fairway market and Green Meadows Farm; 2nd-graders studying the Earth go to the Museum of Natural History; 3rd-graders learn to compost at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and 4th-graders devised a water catchment system for the schoolyard.
Children get a chance to shine during Friday enrichment clubs, based on the Joseph Renzulli model’s belief that “everybody is good at something.” Options include gardening, soccer, arts and more.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: About 18 percent of the students have IEPs (individual educational programs). There are ICT classes and SETSS.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. There are openings for students from outside the zone and the school offers tours. (Pamela Wheaton, December 2015)
At a glance
Number of Students 241
Average Daily Attendance 91%
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?54% 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?70% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?34% 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 does not offer self-contained classes.
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
This school offers team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:9% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:9% 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?
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?