P.S. 344 AmPark Neighborhood School

BRONX NY 10463 Map
Phone: (718) 548-3451
Website: Click here
Principal: Christine Mccourt
Neighborhood: Marble Hill/ Riverdale
District: 10
Grade range: 0K thru 05
Parent coordinator: MARIA CORREA

What's special:

A welcoming school with a focus on the arts and the environment.

The downside:

While most parents are satisfied, a handful say academic expectations could be higher.

The InsideStats



Our review

Situated on a quiet residential street, AmPark Neighborhood School is known for its focus on the arts, the environment and social consciousness. It has a new, brightly lit building with brightly colored walls, large classrooms, a science lab, a music room, a library and a health clinic.

The building, opened in 2011, is attached to PS/MS 95.While PS/MS 95 is a zoned neighborhood school , AmPark is an unzoned school that accepts children by application. The student body is racially integrated and includes children from middle class families as well as those who qualify for free lunch.

The school emphasizes learning by doing, with lots of hands-on projects and field trips. (see photo at left) The school is next to Van Cortland Park, where children have recess every day. In 2012, students completed a project that involved removing invasive plant species from the park. The math curriculum, called TERC, encourages children to learn to solve problems in various different ways. There are full-time music and arts teachers. Children stay with the same teacher for two years.

Ampark has made wellness in the school its mission: the school uses green cleaning materials, allows no trans fats in the school food and does not serve pizza or hamburgers for school meals. The DOE gave the school a “green” award.

Principal Elizabeth Lopez Towey was a co-founder of the Ella Baker school, a public school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and like the Ella Baker School, and she has put Ampark firmly in the progressive camp. She belongs to the Progressive Educators of New York (PENNY) organization. [Christine McCourt replaced Lopez Towey as principal in fall 2012.]

While most parents are satisfied with their children’s education and nearly all say the school is welcoming, a handful said academic expectations could be higher, according to the Learning Environment Survey. In addition, a few teachers say the principal is not an effective manager, according to the survey. 

AmPark was opened in leased space in 2006 with the support of the Amalgamated Park Reservoir Cooperative Housing Project. When it moved to its permanent location in 2011, it expanded its enrollment and had room for more children.

Admissions: The school has regular tours. Priority is given to children living in Van Cortland Park Village, but others may be admitted, space allowing. Call the school or check its website for details. (Clara Hemphill, DOE data, newspaper clippings and school website, March 2012)

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