P.S. 290 Manhattan New School
MANHATTAN NY 10028 Map
P.S. 290 Manhattan New School
The Manhattan New School, one of the top schools in the city, is known for its writing program. Founding Principal Shelly Harwayne and her staff brought to life ideas and techniques that are used in classrooms across the country today. Many former and current staff members have written books that are used in teacher training courses. The school prides itself on keeping that spirit of experimentation alive.
Sharon Hill, a longtime teacher, became principal in 2006 after serving four years as an assistant principal. Hill wants her staff to approach teaching as "researchers who are always thinking about the most important next steps in students' learning." She looks for adaptability in teachers and a willingness to stay open. [In 2014 Hill left PS 290 to become principal of an elementary school in Scarsdale. Her successor is Doreen Esposito, an assistant principal at the school who previously taught 5th grade there.]
Top-notch writing instruction, effective teamwork among children and the infusion of art into literature and projects like maps and timelines make MNS an exciting place to be. Children are productive and classes are calm. “I’m writing about trucks because I already know a lot about them,” said a 3rd grader, jotting notes from a book onto index cards. In a 5th-grade geometry class, a group of five special needs children worked with shapes at a table, while others used paper and pencils to work out problems. At MNS everything has educational value, including the tree trimmers outside in their big yellow truck. First graders walk over to the 2nd Avenue subway to check out its progress and return with a detailed explanation of how the ground is frozen first so it won’t collapse when workers drill.
The school has worked to strengthen its math program, especially in the upper grades, formerly a perceived weakness among parents in spite of excellent test scores. These efforts could be seen on bulletin boards and on classroom charts. Math celebration days mirror the publishing parties held for writing. A math coach works with teachers twice a week, more for those who need it, for eight weeks at a time on a rotating schedule. More attention is given to “accuracy and efficiency,” said Hill. We saw kids working on multiplication facts using flashcards and taking a multiple-choice quiz. A 2nd-grade parent, who has enrolled his child in a Saturday class in Chinatown, was not convinced. “They’re still on addition of small numbers,” he said. But other parents said their children could solve problems quickly and in a variety of different ways and that the pace felt right.
While the more-than-a-century-old MNS building may have character, it is cramped. But the situation has yielded some creative solutions: A former bathroom is a reading recovery room, the cafeteria doubles as a gym, and hallways serve as extended libraries and workspaces. There are two small enclosed yards where younger children play, while 4th and 5th graders play in the street, which is blocked to traffic twice a day.
A super-active parent body supports the school both by fund-raising and volunteering. On the day of our visit, we saw a dad reading to a class as a "mystery reader," two parents preparing a snack for kindergartners, and others attending a publishing party. PTA funds pay for assistant teachers and for arts programs such as opera and band instruction, playwriting, and chess.
Special education: Every grade has Collaborative Team Teaching classes, in which special needs and general education children are placed in the same class with two teachers, one of whom is trained in special education. Additionally, specialists pull kids out or work with small groups in the classroom. Students are clustered, for instance for speech remediation, by need and age to make scheduling easier.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. PS 290 for many years was overcrowded and some children who lived in the zone were sent to nearby schools. After the city changed school zoning boundaries on the Upper East Side, and created a new school, PS 290's zone shrunk and the school can now accommodate all zoned children, Parent Coordinator Sally Mason told Insideschools in 2014. (Lydie Raschka, February 2011; updated November 2014)
At a glance
Number of Students 646
Average Daily Attendance 96%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?3% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?97% 86% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten class23 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade class28 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?100% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?100% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?6% 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?85% 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 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:56% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:43% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:57% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:38% 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?