PS 513 Castle Bridge School
MANHATTAN NY 10032 Map
PS 513 Castle Bridge School
Castle Bridge is a happy place, where students learn through play and exploration. Patterned after Central Park East Elementary School in East Harlem, Castle Bridge combines a progressive approach to teaching with dual language instruction in English and Spanish.
About half of the students speak Spanish at home; the other half speak English. Teachers spend a half-day speaking to their students in one language and then switch to the other, so kids end up learning each subject in both Spanish and English. Founding Principal Julie Zuckerman said that, to her surprise, students particularly excel at speaking their non-native language during math lessons.
Classrooms can get loud and messy, but rules are clear and teachers always maintain control. Children play in groups of two to four with blocks, LEGOS, sand tables, dolls and dress-up corners--learning to get along with one another as well as building their academic skills. During our visit, when one girl accidentally knocked over her classmate’s intricate wooden-block ramp, the teacher brokered an apology, complete with a hug and a joint effort to rebuild the ramp.
Students develop strong relationships with each other and also with adults, giving the school a familial atmosphere. Classes combine children in two grades; kids stay with the same teacher, in the same classroom, for two years. Adults go by their first names. Instead of report cards, teachers write multiple-page “narratives” for each child twice a year.
Zuckerman, former principal of Central Park East I, believes playtime is crucial to learning. She even participates in daily gym class, acting as both referee and playmate as her kids let off steam and run around.
Classes have about 22 children and at least two adults (sometimes as many as seven, including parent volunteers and student teachers). Because teachers know each child so well, they can assign individual and group work tailored to their kids’ strengths and weaknesses.
Parent involvement is strong. Moms and dads often drop in to help out in the classroom. Families also join students in a weekly Monday morning school-wide sing-a-long (for which the principal plays guitar) and weekly Wednesday afternoon ice-skating in Central Park.
The youngest children have a nap after lunch--with optional teddy bears. Teachers also use the teddy bears in certain lessons, such as talking about feelings.
Parents who are looking for a traditional education—with learning based on textbooks and an emphasis on standardized tests—will be disappointed.
But the parents we met on our visit were happy. “Everything is worked into the curriculum so you don’t have to do music or art lessons after school,” one mother, Emma Frank, told us, calling Castle Bridge her “dream school.” She said her child even gets public speaking practice during weekly “oration” lessons.
Castle Bridge shares space with the popular PS 128 Audubon, close to the 168th Street A, C and 1 subway stop and across the street from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
Castle Bridge opened with kindergarten and 1st grade classes in fall of 2012 and will add a grade each year until it grows to a K-5 school with 200 students.
Special education: Castle Bridge is an “inclusion” school, meaning children with disabilities are included in all of the school’s activities. Each classroom has two teachers, at least one of whom is certified to teach special education or ESL.
Admissions: School tour and application available at the school for K & up; pre-K admissions are through the DOE. English-dominant kids are not accepted after 1st grade. The school is committed to serving a diverse population, says Zuckerman, and has set aside 10 percent of its seats for children with parents in the prison system. (Anna Schneider, February 2013)
At a glance
Number of Students 119
Average Daily Attendance 92%
Safety & vibe
How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?11% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?89% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average kindergarten classNA 23 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Number of students in an average fifth grade classNA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?100% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?89% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?NA 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?96% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Do parents like the school?
How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?96% 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 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school does not offer team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
This school does not offer SETSS.
Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 16% 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?