P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier
MANHATTAN NY 10029 Map
P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier
SEPTEMBER 2011 UPDATE: PS 102 started a gifted and talented program with a kindergarten class and plans to add a grade each year.
2004 REVIEW: Housed in a stately red-brick building on a cul-de-sac within a complex of public houses, PS 102 is a school with young, energetic teachers who have their work cut out for them. Students enter requiring plenty of extra help -- with academic and other needs -- but the teachers are given limited resources. They also have had to deal with the difficulties of introducing the new citywide math and literacy curriculum. The school struggles to keep attendance up, and often must address problems of tardiness.
On our visit, we saw some strong teaching, as well as some lessons that needed more focus. Some classrooms were making serious efforts to use the "balanced literacy" approach -- with groups of students simultaneously working on independent reading, guided reading and group work. This approach -- mandated by the city curriculum -- met with mixed success: Especially in younger grades, chatty students had difficulty focusing on their work. In many older grades, however, students stayed on task.
The school emphasizes test prep, and we saw students working from test prep books in several classrooms. The principal explained this is a necessity because many of the kids have weak test-taking skills. Still, while some teachers said that kids actually enjoy the structure of test prep, the nature of the material is dry and repetitive. Younger children who need extra help in reading learn phonics in small groups using the Voyager program, a systematic and intensive reading program that is part of the new citywide curriculum. Although classes in younger grades are small, class size in the older grades can reach 32.
Principal Sandra Gittens has been at the school since 2002, after 20 years as an assistant principal at nearby PS 101. Teachers we spoke to praised her, saying the school has been taking small but sure steps forward. The school has a fulltime literacy coach and part-time math coach, and we saw two separate, well-stocked staff development rooms on our visit. Still, one teacher said she and her colleagues need more training to succeed in new curriculum and to create continuity between grades. [One concern: while the school's staff was pleasant to us on our visit, a staffer in the main office was unusually curt and unaccommodating when we initially called on the phone to schedule our visit.]
The building is pleasant and clean, with lavender hallways, shiny white floors and student work decorating hallways and classrooms. One highlight is the new program in choral music and keyboards. We saw 2nd graders enthusiastically playing their instruments and singing along to "Hot Cross Buns." The school is developing a dance program, and has a nicely stocked, if small, library. Kids also receive extra "cluster" instruction in literacy, computers, library use, gym and science. There's no art program, but Gittens hopes to add one in coming years. The outdoor play space is tiny, and most students must play in the gym after lunch.
The school has one bilingual class and a full-time English as a second language teacher.
Special education: Four "self-contained" classes teach children with special needs only; two "inclusion" classes -- one in kindergarten, the other in 2nd grade -- mainstream special education students.
After school: A program on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays offers physical education to younger students and academic help to older kids. (Deborah Apsel, March 2004)