MANHATTAN NY 10024 Map
PS 452 is growing up, one grade at a time. Opened in 2010 to ease overcrowding on the Upper West Side, the school began with just three kindergarten classes and will add a grade each year until it serves children grades K-5. Led by Principal David Scott Parker, a thoughtful and enthusiastic former teacher and assistant principal at nearby PS 199, the school offers children an academically balanced, art-infused curriculum that has left neighborhood parents pleasantly surprised.
The school is housed in spacious rooms on the second floor of IS 44, or the William O’Shea Complex. The Anderson School and the Computer School also share the building, and the three PTA’s meet together periodically. Among the shared facilities are the cafeteria, gym, dance studio and library. The school’s spacious, sunny rooms are well equipped with colorful rugs, classroom libraries, blocks and book bags. The corridors are quiet and orderly but cheerful, painted by parents with paint donated from a local shop.
When we visited, 452 had begun its third year, and the original kindergarteners had just reached second grade. Each year beginning in first grade studies revolve around three project themes. First graders study “Zoo, Restaurant and Water”; while the second graders explore “Bridge, Underground and Garden.” Science, social studies, math, and the arts figure into each. Partnerships with New York Historical Society, Vital Theater and Salvadori (a nonprofit that helps infuse architecture and engineering into math and science education) add variety to the curriculum.
There are two adults in each room, which could include a teacher, a co-teacher, a teacher’s aide or a paraprofessional, and perhaps a Teachers College student. While children use the school library on occasion, emphasis is on classroom libraries. The second graders had arranged their books according to categories they chose themselves. Technology is also integral. Teachers use a document camera (an advanced overhead projector) and a laptop cart moves from room to room.
Despite somewhat limited access to the gym, kids at 452 do not lack for fitness activities. Each class gets physical education twice a week. First graders participate in a collaborative program with the National Dance Institute (NDI), which featured a rigorous workout to music when we visited. Second graders enroll in Mighty Milers—a running program sponsored by the New York Road Runners. As they line up for jogging or gym, the kids pass a word wall of phys ed–related words for inspiration. At least one period a day kids have PE, art or music. Second graders sing in a chorus and study music theory. Other grades learn to play instruments courtesy of PTA fundraising.
Parents are very involved in the classroom as well as in school planning and meet with the principal each Friday for coffee. There are classroom newsletters, multiple social events and PTA fundraisers throughout the year. Community service projects, a school wide requirement, include a food drive with the help of the National Council of Jewish Women and park cleanups. Students also raise funds to donate to Heifer International.
After School: Sports & Stuff offers theater, chess, guitar, and karate for a fee, with some scholarships.
Special Education: A SETTS teacher on each grade may work with individual kids and serve as an Integrated Co Teacher (ICT) part of the day. There are no self-contained special education classes, but there is a commitment to ICT, and there are OT, PT and speech services for those who need them.
Admissions: PS 452 is a zoned school, but there has been room for about four students from outside the zone each year. (Judy Baum, October 2012)