P.S. 7 Samuel Stern
MANHATTAN NY 10035 Map
P.S. 7 Samuel Stern
MARCH 2009 UPDATE: Global Technology Prep, a new middle school opening in September 2009, will share the PS 7 building.
SEPTEMBER 2006 UPDATE: Robert Negron, principal at the time of our visit, retired in June 2006. The new principal is Raquel Jones. PS 7 now has middle school grades. The 7th and 8th grades are called the Star Academy.
The front entrance of PS 7 looks out on a small, green park, and beyond that, on 121st Street, sits a row of brownstones, several of which are undergoing renovation. The northwestern most school in District 4, PS 7 is located in an area of Spanish Harlem where tenements and brownstones are being revamped, and rental prices are starting to rise. Yet despite these changes, almost all of PS 7's students are poor enough to qualify for free lunch, and most live in nearby housing projects, tenements and homeless shelters.
While the school is institutional-looking from the outside, inside it is clean and pleasant. In 2002 and 2003, it was cited by the state as a "most improved school" in math for 4th grade. Principal Robert Negron, who has been at the helm since 1981, is well liked by kids and teachers, one of whom praises him for encouraging faculty members to socialize with each other. The parent coordinator said that one of the school's strengths is that Negron encourages staffers to be creative. "If I have an idea, [the principal] lets me run with it," she said. "We are encouraged to think out of the box."
During our visit, we saw kids working mostly on task and were impressed by some strong classroom lessons. We also saw creative pedagogy, a bridge-building project to teach math, for example. Many of the school's students are working below grade level and need extra help, so the school employs two "reading recovery" teachers who work one-on-one with the children struggling most. Still, with more resources, the school would be better able to provide assistance to the many kids who need it, says the principal. Students seemed well behaved on the day of our visit, and hallways were calm. Students do misbehave at times, however, some teachers said, although they added that the administration seems to do a good job of addressing discipline problems.
The principal has cut down on administrators in recent years in order to put funds into reducing class size. As a result, classes we visited were uniformly small with some enrolling as few as 14 kids. Third and 4th grade classrooms are particularly small compared to other city schools, a major factor, the principal said, in improving student performance.
While the school is clean, hallways could use more student work. The building contains an auditorium, a gym and a cafeteria as well as a small greenhouse, used for science lessons. When we visited, 6th graders were gearing up for a plant sale, which they were going to hold in the community on the coming Saturday.
PS 7 has a newly renovated, if small, library, and students receive instruction in art, gym, technology and choral music. There is no librarian, however. Bilingual classes are available for students in the younger grades. Through the school, parents can take English-as-a-second-language classes, as well as computer courses.
Special education: There are several "self-contained" classes for children with special needs only.
After school: A wide-ranging program is run by the teachers. "We see it as an extension of the school day," says the principal. Activities include volleyball, basketball, chess and a gardening club. (Deborah Apsel, May 2004)