P.S. 207 Rockwood Park
QUEENS NY 11414 Map
P.S. 207 Rockwood Park
NOVEMBER 2012 UPDATE: PS 207 has been temporarily relocated due to Hurricane Sandy. Students in grades PK-2 are at at the Metropolitan Avenue Campus at 91-30 Metropolitan Avenue, and students in grades 3-8 at IS 204 at 36-41 28th Street until some time in 2013.
Parents at PS 207 -- located in a neighborhood of single family homes in a traditionally Italian, Jewish and Irish community -- liked their neighborhood elementary school so much that they lobbied the District 27 leadership to expand it into a middle school, and in 1997 it became PS/MS 207. We were also impressed by a quietly successful institution, one named among the state's most improved schools because of the increase in its 8th grade test scores.
The fall 2003 introduction of the new, citywide curriculum -- which favors such progressive techniques as having children work in small groups and read storybooks or novels geared for their level of skills -- was "a big change" for some longtime teachers, an administrator told us. It was a comment echoed by a teacher who has been in the profession for 20 years and described the curriculum as "difficult to get into." In classrooms, we saw a mix of old and new teaching approaches. Some teachers, for example, supplemented the new curriculum with a traditional Dick-and-Jane-style reader that contains simple stories and practice exercises for the entire class. And in a 2nd grade class, students copied words and their definitions off the board, while a class of 5th graders completed handwriting worksheets. Vocabulary lists called "word walls," a standard feature of most city classrooms these days, were far less common at PS 207.
We saw some more progressive approaches, too. A lively 4th grade class was planning a math carnival for younger students, brainstorming which math games they would play: students came up with such ideas as fishing for math problems to solve and holding a bean bag toss. This was just one of several ways in which students from different classes at the school interact. We also saw 7th and 8th grade students tutoring younger ones.
The school has an active student council, sponsors a student-produced newsletter and encourages kids to perform community service. Middle school students take specialty classes, such as band, chorus, newsletter or dance, usually late on Tuesday, an extended day at city schools.
Beginning in 4th grade, every grade has a "top class," open to those who have performed at or above grade level on the 3rd grade standardized exams -- a score of "3" or "4." Kids in middle school honors classes take two Regents exams and may enter high school with high school credits.
We saw a healthy mix of effectively used technology -- the school has a supply of laptops wired for Internet access -- and old-fashioned fun. One kindergarten class was learning to sing "This Land is Your Land" in a large music room equipped with oversized xylophones.
Parents -- many of them stay-at-home-Moms -- participate actively in the life of PS/MS 207. Many volunteer two to four hours per day at the school, according to the parent coordinator -- herself a parent -- and the Parent Association executive board numbers 25, unusually high participation. During the year about 15 parents attended an after-school technology class, while the parent coordinator took care of their children.
About half of the 8th grade graduates go on to parochial high schools; a handful tested into the specialized high schools and another six or seven were accepted to the highly competitive Townsend Harris.
After school: Intense academic program for 3rd graders three times weekly; dance and basketball programs sponsored by the Parents Association.
Special education: There is one team-taught class where seven special education students learn alongside 14 general education students (1st graders in 2003-04). Seven "self-contained" classes teach only students receiving special education services. (Pamela Wheaton, May 2004)