P.S. 111 Adolph S. Ochs
MANHATTAN NY 10019 Map
P.S. 111 Adolph S. Ochs
New luxury apartments are springing up all around, but PS 111 still serves a mostly poor population, including many new immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries and a few Arab-speakers from Yemen. While middle class children who live in the zone may opt for private schools or better-know public schools (especially in the upper grades), children from as far as the Bronx transfer into PS 111 under the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.
PS 111 has small classes, a nice music program and extensive special education services (including a room set aside for physical and occupational therapy). In 2013, the school opened a Spanish dual-language program. Classrooms are clean and well-supplied. Parents seem to be involved. Principal Irma Medina, who speaks Spanish, greeted many by name the day of our visit, when parents organized a holiday gift sale.
Teachers give plenty of individual attention and we heard no raised voices the day of our visit. Kids say they feel safe, and the school seemed orderly. However, a few children were serving in-house suspensions in a special room set aside for that purpose.
PS 111 has a very high suspension rate —there were more than 100 suspensions in 2011. Only one-third of teachers responding to the Learning Environment Survey agreed that order and discipline are maintained at the school. Medina acknowledges the difficulties. "Our kids sometimes have challenging behavior," she said. The school has a dean and a full-time social worker to help, she said.
While test scores are below average for the city, PS 111 tries to provide challenges to strong students. The school offers free test-prep to 7th and 8th graders for the Specialized High School Admissions Test, and a handful of graduates pass each year. Other popular choices are the High School of Environmental Studies and Food and Finance High School.
More than 100 students are learning English as a Second Language. We saw some lively ESL classes. Kids played the card game UNO or the dice game Yatzee with their teachers, or learned English words by listening to them aloud on an iPad, then touching a corresponding picture on the screen.
Special education: More than 150 students receive special education services. There are self-contained classes, collaborative team teaching classes with two teachers, and Special Education Teacher Support Services, as well as speech, occupational and physical therapy. Special education teachers seemed attentive and the students were engaged.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. There is a long waiting list for the full-day pre-kindergarten program. For other grades, there is sometimes room for children from outside the zone. (Clara Hemphill, December 2011, updated dual language program, June 2013)