P.S. 124 Yung Wing
MANHATTAN NY 10002 Map
P.S. 124 Yung Wing
Yung Wing School, PS 124 is a high achieving, neighborhood school appropriately named for the first Chinese immigrant to graduate from an American university. Located in Chinatown, the school is very much a reflection of the close-knit, immigrant community it serves. Many children are English language learners or speak Chinese exclusively at home, and most come from low income households. The school is home to a district-wide gifted and talented program, but many children at PS 124, regardless of class placement, are strong learners who move on to selective middle schools after graduation.
Principal Alice Hom has led the school since 2003. A veteran educator, Hom spent 18 years as a classroom teacher at the highly-regarded PS 6.
The tone is calm and cheery. Each day starts on a traditional note with two children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance over the PA system. In most grades class sizes run as high as 32, but teachers do a good job of making sure their students stay on task. In classes we observed, teachers were working with a small group of children while their classmates focused on individual assignments.
Parents say the school is run well. "It's the little things that make this school so special," said one mother. Each grade produces a monthly newsletter translated into Mandarin and Cantonese so parents can keep track of their children's school work. To make sure struggling students make the most of their early morning extra help, the staff prepares bagged breakfasts for children to take directly to their classrooms.
The school uses the same curriculum for its G&T and general education classes. The main differences lie in the pacing of instruction and types of projects. G&T students may plow through a unit of study quickly leaving more time to tackle additional topics and lengthier projects. In general education classes, teachers spend more time on the fundamentals, though research and writing projects are assigned too.
In addition to academics and physical education, students get instruction in art, music and technology. Second graders take swimming lessons at the Asser Levy Recreation Center. Chess instruction is part of the third grade curriculum. Fourth graders participate in a dance program sponsored by the National Dance Institute.
Despite language barriers and modest incomes, parents find ways to support the school. The PTA runs fundraisers like raffles, school photos and plant sales on Mother's Day. Parents fluent in English help with outreach to those who only speak Chinese. Some help run the library, which the school had to close temporarily when it first lost funding for a librarian.
The school's biggest drawback is its size. With enrollment close to 1000 students, it's hard for the administration to work closely with all teachers. Overall, parents and teachers gave high marks to the school on the 2010-11 Learning Environment Survey, but 29% of teachers who responded said they didn't get regular and helpful feedback about their teaching.
English as a second language: ESL instructors provide extra support to children in their regular classes. All teachers and support staff receive training in ESL support.
Special education: The school has both self-contained and ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes and SETTS.
After school: The school offers a variety of activities including technology, gymnastics and tumbling, cooking, arts, fitness, literacy support, Spanish and Scrabble. The school's top-notch chess team is very successful at local, regional and national tournaments. There's a theater program started by actress Baayork Lee, who performed in the original stage production of "The King and I".
Admissions: Neighborhood school. Admission to the G&T program is based on student performance on the citywide G&T tests. (Laura Zingmond, January 2012)