P.S. 60 Woodhaven
QUEENS NY 11421 Map
P.S. 60 Woodhaven
Academic progress by students at PS 60 has been steady and impressive. The school leads the region in the number of new immigrant children who become proficient enough in English to test out of English as a Second Language classes. It has also become more welcoming to parents. "Before, we weren't informed on issues," said a mother. "But the new principal listens to parents. That's why I'm more involved.
PS 60 is especially large for an elementary school, and it has 16 percent more students than its intended capacity. Its 2nd grade is biggest with 10 sections. Other grades have between 6 and 9 classes. Class sizes run largest in grades, 3rd through 5th (between 30 and 32 pupils), while lower grades have 26 or fewer enrolled.
Before taking his present post in fall 2004, Principal Frank Desario was an assistant principal at another large institution, JHS 202 (1,441 students), in Ozone Park, for three years. Upon his arrival at PS 60, he focused on making the school more intimate. Desario initiated an open-door policy for parents. At dismissal time, you always see him "out in the yard, meeting people," said one parent. Another said that he has been very responsive to complaints. When parents expressed concern over overcrowding during dismissal, Desario responded within days by moving four of eight buses to a new pickup site on the other side of the school.
A mainly residential neighborhood, the community around PS 60 has changed significantly in recent years, said a teacher. "Parents [65 percent of whom are Hispanic] are more limited in English skills and can't help their children with homework," she said. Yet English language learners at the school are excelling. During the 2004-05 year, they led the region in the number testing out of the school's ESL program. That year, 97 out of 230 children graduated from the program, according to the assistant principal in charge of ESL.
There are IGC (Intellectually Gifted Children) classes in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, for those who score well above standard on literacy tests. We watched 4th grade IGC students discuss the rhyming scheme of a triplet -- a three-line poem -- with their instructor.
The school employs full-time art, science, social studies, physical education, music, and computer teachers. One drawback is that because of enrollment, not all students get every subject every year. For example, music classes are offered only to kindergartners and 3rd and 5th graders. Overcrowding also means gym classes often have to double up. We watched a huge class with 2nd graders from two homerooms rotate through activity stations set up by their teacher in the school's enormous gym. Some jumped rope (the city-mandated skill of the month) while others used scooters and shot basketballs.
The computer teacher plays the New York Times stock market game with 5th graders, who compete on teams to see who gets richest. Each child gets $100,000 in imaginary money for purchasing and following stocks on the game's website. "We learned a lot," said one student. "We saw how much shares cost." Added a classmate: "We found out how the market works and how many people shop for stocks." The winning team visits the New York Stock Exchange for an awards luncheon and to meet brokers.
English as a Second Language: English language learners are taken out of regular education classes to receive ESL support.
Special Education: There are three self-contained classes, one of which is a bilingual class for Spanish speakers. In addition 64 children are taken out of their regular classes for support instruction.
After school: Extra literacy and math help is available to children, grades 1st through 5th, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. ESL classes meet for an hour, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. (John Thomas, January 2005)