P.S. 153 Adam Clayton Powell
MANHATTAN NY 10031 Map
P.S. 153 Adam Clayton Powell
PS 153, in Harlem’s Hamilton Height’s neighborhood, serves many Latino students and offers a sought-after Art Intensive Institute, Gifted and Talented classes, and Dual Language programs which attract students from across the district.
Building and location: Located in a modern brick building in a busy neighborhood, murals of children on the front doors of PS 153 welcome students and the community. Hallways are bright and inviting with colorful art throughout. Science projects and stories are displayed on the walls. The renovated dance studio and library are among the school’s most prized assets. The computer labs and cafeteria are large, to accommodate the student body. However, the play yard is small and poorly-equipped for the number of students it needs to serve.
School environment and culture: On the day of our visit, children walked through the hallways in an orderly manner with the principal greeting each child by name. Students wear uniforms with a shirt color corresponding to their grade level and sit quietly on their classroom carpets as teachers provide instruction.
The school’s participation in the Peace Builders program – which provides social and emotional intervention services for students – has curbed discipline issues and helped students learn how to solve their own problems, says Karen Bailey who became principal in 2008. Guidance counselors and social workers provide further assistance to students through in the school’s “Lunch Bunch” program.
Teaching and curriculum: A veteran teacher said that Bailey “encourages you to go further” and is very ‘’approachable.” Teachers share a strong sense of camaraderie and feel that PS 153 provides a pleasant working environment. The principal echoed a similar sentiment citing the low teacher turnover rate.
In each classroom, large “word walls” serve as a space for vocabulary lessons. During our visit, kindergarten students colored in pictures of compasses on worksheets as the teacher engaged students by asking questions about the directions on a compass, situations in which one might need a compass, and how it can be applied in the child’s everyday life.
New technology is incorporated into reading, language, and math lessons. Students used laptops to research explorers of New York and making power point presentations. A “tech club” meets during the school week to work on the school’s web page. Additional computer classes are offered on the weekends.
Students benefit from a curriculum rich in music and performing arts. In a percussion class, we observed students practicing the “William Tell Overture.” The school’s drama program offers instruction on theatre and acting. A parent whose child participates in the Arts Initiative Institute noted that she “loved” the arts program and appreciated that as much attention was placed on the arts as on academics.
Special Education: About 10% of the students require special education services. There are three self-contained classrooms for grades 1-5; CTT classes for grades K-3. Special education teachers remain with their students for more than one year.
English Language Learners: With a school population that is two-thirds of Hispanic origin, some 35% of students are still learning to speak English. Most of the school’s teachers are ESL certified and receive ongoing professional development to strengthen their ESL teaching methodologies, the principal said. The school’s Dual Language students start school at 8 a.m. rather than 8:40. Students alternate between Spanish and English classrooms each day.
Gifted and Talented: Students audition for the highly sought-after Arts Intensive Institutive. Those accepted receive lessons two to three times a week in dance, percussion, theatre, and orchestra, from members of the Harlem School of the Arts. Students qualify for the district G&T by taking the citywide admissions tests. Students may participate in one of the two programs, not both. Both programs begin at 8 a.m., earlier than the normal start time.
Partnerships and Programs: In addition to Harlem School of the Arts, numerous partnerships help support the school including Alianza Dominicana, the Guggenheim Museum, Teachers College, Lutheran Healthcare Dental, and many others.
After School: There is no on-campus, after-school programming due to construction at the school. However, the school is open on Saturdays to provide academic and extracurricular enrichment such as a tech club, art club, and various sports. Students must keep up their grades in order to participate in sports programs. Children may go to the local YMCA and the Harlem Boys & Girls Club for tutoring services.
Family Involvement: Parent Coordinator Stephanie Pratt, has been involved in the school for 27 years. She coordinates violence prevention and dyslexia workshops, family literacy nights, and dual language holiday potlucks. The PTA recently formed a non-profit for PS 153 titled, Friends of P.S. 153, to facilitate grant applications for funding of special programs. The PTA formed a green committee and works in the community garden near the school.
Admissions: Neighborhood School. District G&T program. About10 percent of the students come from outside of the zone.
After Graduation: Most students are zoned for schools in the IS 90 complex, however some go on to the Young Women’s Leadership, City College Academy, and various charter schools. (Tovah Gottesman, November 2009)