PS 118 Maurice Sendak Community School
BROOKLYN NY 11215 Map
PS 118 Maurice Sendak Community School
Extended PK hours offered: Contact program about extended hours.
Aptly named after Maurice Sendak, the author of Where the Wild Things Are, PS 118 is a bubbly, inventive place where young “wild things” are encouraged to express themselves and explore the “jungle” of New York City and beyond. Children create projects based on trips, experiences and lessons in a rich social studies program that brings added meaning to reading and writing. They study Spanish and get to design their own homework.
A sign on the door to a pre-kindergarten class says, “Under Construction!” because of all the building going on inside, with LEGOs, wooden blocks, Magna-Tiles and other materials. Hallways are filled with collage, sculpture, facts about polar bears, bar graphs and photos of children’s faces with bubbles saying what they want to be when they grow up. A big, bright science room has fish tanks, crickets and plants. In science, parents were told on a tour, kindergartners get to study worms.
Children explore their neighborhood and the wider city: On our February visit, 1st graders had already gone on eight field trips to see historic sites, museums and more, in their exploration of Brooklyn’s history.
Second graders take field trips to Ellis Island as part of their immigration study, culminating in a living “wax museum” in which kids dress up and tell immigrant stories. “Every opportunity is an opportunity to learn something new,” said Principal Elizabeth Garraway.
Spanish is infused into academics and play, and children hear it spoken throughout the day—not just in twice weekly Spanish lessons. At least one of the two teachers in every classroom is bilingual. Beginning in pre-kindergarten, children sing songs in Spanish, learn the alphabet, and practice simple words about the weather, clothing and body parts.
Garraway designed this multicultural approach in keeping with her own international background and her experience as assistant principal at popular PS 321. A graduate of Midwood High School, she has a master's degree in Spanish and anthropology and studied in Europe, living in Spain for seven years. She taught both Spanish and French in Brooklyn middle and high schools. "My background is in language, culture and people, and what's important to me is to use that background in the work that I do," Garraway told DNAinfo.
The school has an unusual homework policy called EYB (exercise your brain), in which children choose from a “menu” of ideas that may include making a nonfiction book, a diorama or a homemade board game incorporating facts about tornadoes. On our tour, we saw projects that went far beyond the scope of typical fill-in-the-blank homework—but in their sophistication seemed dependent on organizational guidance from an adult at home.
Parents are very active at PS 118. They accompany classes on field trips and neighborhood walks and began a fee-based after-school program. They are invited to monthly “family Fridays” for an art project or breakfast. They raise money for trips, arts and the second adult in every classroom. Garraway said parents raise about $1,000 per child per year.
Opened in 2013 to ease overcrowding at nearby PS 321 and PS 107, PS 118 is housed in former parochial school building, St. Thomas Aquinas. There are two classes on most grades, including pre-kindergarten. Well-designed renovations include a airy top-floor gymnasium and a cafeteria with a glass divider on the ground floor.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school is flexible about offering children the services they need, said Garraway, formerly a special education supervisor at PS 321. A lot of the teachers are certified to teach special education, she said.
ADMISSION: Neighborhood school. The school is located outside its attendance zone, roughly comprising the area between Third and Fourth avenues and President and Sixth streets. (Lydie Raschka, parent tour, February 2017)
At a glance
Number of Students 218
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?100% 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?100% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?10% 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 does not offer team teaching (ict).
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:NA 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:NA 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?