P.S. 3 Charrette School

Phone: (212) 691-1183
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood school
Neighborhood: Chelsea/ Greenwich Village
District: 2
Grade range: PK thru 05

What's special:

School encourages creativity

The downside:

Laid-back atmosphere may not be for everyone

The InsideStats



Our review

PS 3 strives to find a balance between the rich arts and community focus of the school’s founders and the common core academics that students need as they advance into middle and high school. The Greenwich Village school fosters a friendly and informal atmosphere where administrators and students are on a first name basis—students greeted the principal with “Hello Lisa” – and students may skip through the hallways.

Unlike most other city schools, PS 3 still offers “bridge” classes combining two grades : kindergarten/1st; 2nd/3rd, and 4th/5th. Class size is large with as many as 29 students in some classrooms. Parents of PK-1st grade students may bring their children right to the classrooms and all parents are welcome in the school.  Many say they moved to the neighborhood for the school.

We saw a room full of parents toting video cameras watching 2nd-graders present “Fractured Fairytales” at a publishing party. Fifth-graders hosted an international festival, presenting fun facts about their country of study, and offering delicious samples of national cuisines. Another 2/3 class performed a play in the renovated auditorium. Not every day is so active, but nor was this that unusual, according to Principal Lisa Siegman.

PS 3 uses a combination of curriculums. TERC Investigations is one of several models used for math and teachers add lessons about telling time and fractions to make it relevant to real life. In one 2/3 class, the students were learning about Vikings and built an impressive Viking house in the classroom. Every student also has a daily "special" period allowing time for art, music, computers, library, movement or games.

A wellness group comprised of parents, teachers and students promotes healthy living. A former parent works with the kitchen staff to prepare healthier food.  One program, “meatless Mondays,” features meat-free school lunch. A partnership with the French Culinary Institute has been in place for several years in which PS 3 parents, who are also chefs, teach students about food and cooking in a fully equipped "Cooking Room." “It’s not just cooking but a brilliant format to learn math and social skills,” says the principal.  Students grow herbs and vegetables at a garden plot in Battery Park City Park, which are regularly incorporated into the cafeteria fare. Fifth-graders can go out to lunch with parental permission and about 75 percent go out on an average day.

Although the school has no formal gymnasium, physical activity is important, the mother of a 2nd-grader tells us. A program called "K Club" allows for an extra 45 minutes in addition to recess in which kindergartners can run around and play.

Students meet and read books together with an adult volunteer once a week as part of a “power lunch” program. PS 3 has a partnership with Story Pirates, professional actors who help students write and perform plays. There are also Brownie and Daisy troupes. The Parent Teacher Association sponsors Artist in Residence and Science in Residence grants for interested teachers to receive extra help and funding to be more creative in the classroom. In 2013, an additional science teacher was added for the 4th and 5th grades, funded entirely by the PTA.

The school has several student events throughout the year including Earth Day; a danceathon where students raise money for Safe Passage, a sister school in Guatemala; field day; and an annual talent show. There is an independent afterschool program that offers fencing, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese culture and crafts, French, archery and gymnastics for a fee.

Popular middle school choices include The Center School, The Lab School for Collaborative Studies, and The Clinton School for Writers and Artists.

Special education: There are two self-contained classes and six Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classes.  

Admissions: PS 3 has long shared a zone with PS 41, with parents applying to the school of their choice in the spring. However, because of severe overcrowding at PS 41, in January 2013 the District 2 Community Education Council voted to establish a separate zone for each school which will begin with admission for the 2014 school year. This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Elementary Schools. (Aryn Bloodworth, April 2011; updated zone information January 2013.)

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