P.S. 189

Phone: (212) 927-8303
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Wheelchair accessible
Neighborhood: Washington Heights
District: 6
Grade range: 0K thru 05
Parent coordinator: SILVIA SUERO

What's special:

Small class size; excellent teachers; school feels like one big family

The downside:

Limited pre-K program.

The InsideStats



Our review

PS 189 is a welcoming school, a place where students celebrate their teachers' birthdays, parents are active volunteers, and Theresa Luger, the highly knowledgeable principal, is constantly improving operations. Under her leadership, class size has dropped to 20 students in grades K-3, a new computer lab has been established, and a new library is being constructed, thanks to the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty group. The school's hallways and classrooms are clean and organized. Each classroom has a computer, a colorful rug, a rocking chair, and hundreds of books placed in baskets. Some even have lizards, fish, and mealworms.

Luger has created a school that manages to serve both its many immigrant children learning English60 percent of the school population and students who need a lot of intellectual stimulation to remain interested in class. Struggling students work one on one with a reading coach five times a week for 50 minutes and use computer programs that help them with vocabulary and fluency. Two psychologists from New York-Presbyterian Hospital (formerly Columbia-Presbyterian) provide child and family counseling, and students from the George Washington high school complex read to 1st graders once a week. Luger places her top students into a separate, advanced class. "I need to keep those kids and keep them challenged," she said. Throughout the school, students benefit from extra activities. First and 4th graders are taught by the National Dance Institute, a not-for-profit arts-education group founded by the renowned ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise.[The video at the left was produced by NDI].

In all the classes we saw, we were impressed by teaching that kept students focused and excited. Second graders who were writing essays about an animal they had selected used different-colored Post-it notes to help keep their research organized. As they read about their animal in books, they recorded important information on the memo-notes. Later, they sorted the Post-its by colors, each representing a different chapter of their essay. One student wrote about a spider: "You may think I live underground, but most of the time I live in a web."

Although the student population in the neighborhood is shrinking, the school does not have enough room for all prospective pre-K students, something Luger hopes to change as more space in the building becomes available. "If we get these kids in pre-K we would do a much better job than if they come from a different program," she said.

Parents are an important part of the PS 189 community. More than 200 of them volunteer, and they raise around $50,000 annually for the school. Students help out, too; 20 children work as safety hall monitors.

English as a Second Language: The school offers bilingual, English as a Second Language, and dual-language programs.

Special education: The school has self-contained classes, only for children with special needs, and "collaborative team teaching" (CTT) classes, which mix special and general education children in a class taught by two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education. The school is barrier-free for pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade. (Vanessa Witenko, March 2007)

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