P.S. 41 Greenwich Village
MANHATTAN NY 10011 Map
P.S. 41 Greenwich Village
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, PS 41 is one of the top schools in the city. Nationally recognized for its writing program, PS 41 also has a thoughtful curriculum for science and social studies, a cohesive and experienced staff and a principal who is responsive to both parents and teachers. PS 41 serves the children of artists, entertainers, New York University professors and other professionals who raise more than half a million dollars a year for the PTA. Unfortunately, the school’s popularity--combined with poor planning by the city--means there are long waiting lists for kindergarten. Some children who are zoned for the school have been turned away in recent years.
Families are active and welcome in the school. The day of our visit, kindergarten parents gathered for coffee in the cafeteria while Principal Kelly Shannon gave tips on how to best chaperone a class trip. Second graders showed off the homemade books they had written, while parents read them and posted thoughtful comments. In the library, teachers and administrators from other cities gathered for a workshop on how to teach writing using methods developed at PS 41 in collaboration with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
The school combines a warm and relaxed tone with serious academics. Children may sprawl on the rug or in a bean bag chair to read a book. Some teachers are called by their first names. But the classes are focused and attentive and the work seems to be challenging. While a second grader might write about why he loves LEGOs or how she spends a family holiday, by 5th grade children analyze the U.S. Constitution or discuss current events. The social studies curriculum begins with a study of the school community, continues with a neighborhood study and ends with a study of the United States. Other units focus on China, or Mexico or restaurants.
The science rooms offer hands-on experiments. Children might learn about erosion by running water through boxes of sand, or learn how sound travels through water and air. The math curriculum, called TERC or Investigations, encourages children to find different ways to solve problems.
The lunchroom is calmer and less chaotic than a typical school cafeteria. The food is better, too. A chef from Gramercy Tavern comes (as part of the restaurant study) and shares recipes with the kitchen staff. The social studies curriculum informs the menu: blackberries when the kids are studying Native Americans, dumplings when they are studying China. Even the playground is pleasant: the school hires young people who are trained as summer day camp counselors to organize games during recess. The National Dance Institute offers dance lessons.
Special education: The staff takes pride in identifying learning issues early and providing extra support. The school has three speech therapists (whose work includes helping children with reading). It offers occupational therapy and collaborative team teaching. It does not offer self-contained classes and it no longer has a program for visually impaired children. From what we observed on our visit, special needs students are fully integrated without stigma.
Admissions: PS 41 long shared a zone with PS 3 and parents living in the zone could choose either school. However, as housing construction outpaced new school construction in Greenwich Village, PS 41 experienced overcrowding and children in the zone were no longer guaranteed admission. In January 2013, the Community Education Council voted to establish separate zones for each school beginning in the 2014 school year. For students entering in 2013, a lottery is held in the spring; those who are not offered a seat may be assigned to PS 3 or PS 11 (both excellent schools), or may elect to stay on a waiting list. (Clara Hemphill, January 2012; upated new zoning rule January 2013)