P.S. 83 Luis Munoz Rivera
MANHATTAN NY 10029 Map
P.S. 83 Luis Munoz Rivera
PS 83 was once known as a traditional school with solid academics but a somewhat rigid atmosphere. Now, the school has managed to increase academic performance while creating a healthy environment in which teachers and students thrive. Gone are the graded readers, the emphasis on test prep, and the tracking of students into "gifted" and general education classes. Teachers now offer "balanced literacy," in which each child chooses a book geared for his or her reading level and interest. Art is integrated in all subject areas, and children's artwork is on display in corridors and classrooms. Students create newsletters, poetry anthologies and study in depth about current events such as global warming.
Frances Castillo, who became principal in 2002, said the school is a more joyful, less tense place. A new program to build children's character has "made a peaceful, calming community, and done wonders in only a few months," she said.
Students in all grades begin the day with seven minutes of free writing. We saw a full-day pre-kindergarten class in which children had already mastered their colors and numbers and had good social skills. Kindergarten students were constructing full sentences and paragraphs. Kids and teachers look forward to "Fun Friday'' in 4th and 5th grade where teachers and students get to share together in a social learning environment. The students are able to meet with the other classes in their grade level to discuss what they have learned, or view a video that they created themselves, in a family-style atmosphere.
The PTA is very active, organizing annual carnivals and multicultural fairs. Unfortunately, the school does not have much in the way of technology, but students are encouraged to use computers at home. There is no music program. Kindergartners have a playground with soft surfaces, slides and a climbing structure right outside the classroom door. Older students play in a concrete area that has no recreational equipment.
PS 83 shares the building with the Bilingual Bicultural Mini-School.
Special education: Unlike many schools that squeeze their special education classes into tiny rooms with limited resources, PS 83 offers a spacious, colorful environment with comparable manipulative learning devices and books.
After school: The school has a basketball team and is partnered with Randall's Island Sports Program, which offers an array of activities from soccer to horseback riding.
Admissions: PS 83 is a neighborhood school but there are sometimes seats available for students from outside the zone and even the district, especially in the early grades, pre-K 2. Call the school to be put on a waitlist. Parents will be called according to space available. For a school tour, contact the parent coordinator. (This school is profiled in New York City's Best Public Elementary Schools. Jacquie Wayans, April 2007