PS/IS 180 Hugo Newman

Phone: (212) 678-2849
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school; priority to continuing 6th graders
Neighborhood: Harlem
District: 3
Grade range: PK thru 08
Parent coordinator: KHADYJAH WILSON

What's special:

A warm, inviting school with small classes and active parents; dual language program

The downside:

Reading scores could be higher

The Inside Stats


Our review

Located across the street from Morning Side Park, The Hugo Newman College Preparatory School PS/IS 180 is a bright, well-kept and welcoming building serving pre-K–8th grade. Over the past decade this Harlem neighborhood has seen some gentrification and the student body has become increasingly diverse. A dual language English-Spanish program was added beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. An award winning school, PS/IS 180 offers students a constructive and effective learning environment with strong academics and enrichment.

Students, teachers and administrators take obvious pride in their building and school community. The school atmosphere is warm and inviting and beautiful murals created by TATS CRU, a Bronx based graffiti mural arts organization, brighten the walls. The facility is meticulously maintained and spacious with a clean and large cafeteria, an auditorium, a gym and expansive outdoor play yards.

On the day of our visit, students in every classroom were engaged, alert and happy. Respect plays a key role in all interactions throughout the school. We saw many teachers collaborating on lessons during prep time. The teachers we met had long tenures at PS/IS 180 and universally spoke about the positive work environment. Principal Peter McFarlane (referred to as Dr. Mac) sets a tone of high expectation and collaboration. He said schools are one of the only consistent influences on many children’s lives, insisting that, "schools have to be predictable." [Since the time of our visit, Dr. McFarlane has retired. Assistant Principal Lana Fleming took over the school leadership after he left in January 2014.]

To maximize learning and individual attention, classes are limited to 20 students in four classes per grade in the lower grades. The upper school classes are capped at 22 students and have access to two science labs each staffed by a full-time science teacher. All 3rd–8th-grade classrooms have SMARTBoards, and a cart of laptops and kindles rotates between rooms.

In 2013 the school hired a full-time librarian who is actively trying to expand the library collection to a circulation of 15,000 books through partnerships and family involvement. For example, families can donate books in celebration of students’ birthdays and they are celebrated on a birthday poster in the hall.

Community is central to Dr. McFarlane’s educational philosophy and has played a key role in the success of PS/IS 180. The school has a family support wing providing dental and optometric care through partnerships with New York Presbyterian Hospital and SUNY Optometric Center. Parent interest provided the impetus for starting a dual-language program, beginning with the kindergarten class in 2013. students will receive instruction in English for halfof the day, and will receive instruction in Spanish for the other half.

Parent involvement continues to increase. The PTA has gained 501c3 status—usually reserved for only the most active and successful school PTAs. The group holds a regular community flea market and participates in a Learning Leaders program to train parent volunteers. On the day of our visit a couple of parents were in classrooms supporting teachers. 

Students receive physical education one to two times per week and have access to daily swim lessons at Asphalt Green. A full-time music teacher and a collaboration with Midori and Friends provides comprehensive music education, while a partnership with Studio in a School provides art lessons. For additional enrichment, a program called Talent Tuesdays gives students access to a variety of course offerings led by teachers and staff. For example, Parent Coordinator Khadyah Wilson leads a crafters class. Other options include dressmaking, yoga, chess, ballroom dancing and cooking among others. Middle school students can take Spanish and all middle school students participate in community services activities. Some grades go to lunch daily at the Police Athletic League across the street.

Special education: The school has four assistant principals including an AP designated to oversee special education services. There is currently one ICT class per grade for 3rd-6th, and additional ICT classes are planned. The school has two school psychologists, a social worker, two guidance counselors and a speech therapist. Physical and occupational therapists are contracted as needed.

After school: After school activities are offered through Sports and Arts in Schools and the New York Junior Tennis League. On weekends, students can participate in basketball clinics at the school.

Admissions: The elementary school is zoned; there is an orientation and interviews for the dual language program which will have one class per grade K-5 at full growth. See the school's website for more information. IS 180 participates in the District 3 middle school choice process, but priority for admission is to continuing students, who end up filling most of the seats. All entering students are selected through an interview process that includes their parents. (Sharon McCann-Doyle, March 2013)

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