P.S. 290 Manhattan New School
MANHATTAN NY 10028 Map
P.S. 290 Manhattan New School
At Manhattan New School, the best ideals of progressive education meet structure, experience and a true love of the craft of teaching. Tour the school, and you may see kindergartners squish blueberries as part of a study on pigment before moving seamlessly into a lesson on phonics; 4th-graders may study the Greek myth of the fallen hero Icarus and then design and build their own parachutes.
Kids are happy and engaged and staffers seem eager to go the extra mile, whether that means a weekly walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to supplement a social studies unit or working together on detailed plans to reach kids with different levels of skills in the same class. The quality of teaching is superb throughout, and teachers share an intellectual excitement about their work. Many staffers have written books that are used in university education courses.
MNS has long been known for its strong writing program and has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best schools in the city. Doreen Esposito, who became principal in 2014 after working at the school for 15 years as a teacher and assistant principal, is well-qualified to carry on its legacy. While she maintains a clear sense of continuity, she has also brought in fresh ideas—a practice that in and of itself is highly valued at MNS. “Reflection is a huge part of what we do here,” she said.
Under Esposito’s watch, the school has introduced Mindfulness Mondays, where 4th-graders lead 2nd-graders in meditation to ease the transition from the weekend. Another addition is a special room, filled with natural materials and recycled household products such as toilet paper tubes and yarn, where kids can tackle hands-on projects and learn teamwork. During our visit, a group of 4th-grade boys eagerly showed off their latest creation: a recycled robot that sprays seeds from its feet and water from its nose, tied to their study of sustainability in social studies.
In response to parents’ requests for more rigor in math instruction, the school has worked hard to make sure students have strong arithmetic skills as well as an understanding of underlying mathematical concepts. Posters about math strategies abound, as do small counters in all shapes and sizes across grades. We saw a class of 5th-graders get down on the floor with their teacher to tackle a particularly tricky fraction problem with small shapes, while another group converted milliliters to liters in their heads. A coach worked with teachers to hone instruction and supplement the math programs—a combination of the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Investigations curriculum and a City College program called Math in the City. Kids who excel may join Math Olympiad.
The parent body is extremely active both off and on campus. Last year, parents successfully petitioned to have a CitiBike station that was located next to the school moved, arguing that it was a safety hazard. On the day of our visit, we saw moms in the main office cutting out labels for the school auction, a fundraiser that supports extra programs like chess, the National Dance Institute and the Wingspan Theater. We also saw several part-time staffers who were former parents, including a choral instructor leading a group of vivacious 4th-graders and a dance teacher helping kindergartners get their wiggles out in the makeshift auditorium.
While the old building is charming and very well-kept, space is tight. Staffers make it work: The cafeteria doubles as a gym complete with brand new fold away tables and a basketball hoop, and 5th-graders have recess on a closed-off side street, while younger kids play in one of two enclosed side yards. Plans are in the works for a green roof, which will serve as both as an extra play space and a science center.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes at every grade level, and a range of service providers work with children both in and out of the classroom.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned school. The school suffered from overcrowding for a number of years, but it has not had waitlists since the attendance zone was reduced a few years ago. Parent Coordinator Sally Mason encourages new families to move into the school's zone. (Aimee Sabo, March 2016)
At a glance
Number of Students 627
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?