P.S. 121 Throop
BRONX NY 10469 Map
P.S. 121 Throop
PS 121, led by Principal Rachel Donnelly, is a neighborhood school with an emphasis on helping children understand and control their own behavior. Every year, all children develop a "personal code," that is, a statement showing how they expect to behave while at school. For example, a kindergarten child's code might be, "I will share with my classmates," while an older child's personal code might say, "I will do my best in my classes and help others to learn by participating in class." Teachers also have personal codes, such as "I will show respect for my students." Codes are prominently posted on children's desks and throughout the school.
One teacher we spoke to praised the use of personal codes saying that when children act inappropriately, the code provides a standard for behavior. "The personal code is so easy to reinforce because the kids own it," she asserts. "They created it, so they can't blame me for holding them to it. It allows them to measure their own behavior."
The hallways at PS 121 are wonderfully decorated with some creative bulletin boards highlighting student work. The entire school is filled with students' artwork. One former classroom is a designated a "Children's Museum," featuring arts and crafts projects, as well as children who take turns acting as curators. The school also has a computer lab where children in grades 3-5 receive weekly technology instruction, including learning to use the PowerPoint program.
Children at this school seemed especially happy and energetic. On the day of our visit, 4th grade students were enthusiastically writing haiku poems. Third grade students had recently received money from a private foundation to go shopping at a nearby bookstore and were presenting thank-you cards to representatives of the foundation, who came to visit the students in class. Students school-wide had completed a social studies report project and were interviewing their classmates about their research topics. Special education students were engaged in hands-on experiments in the large and bright science room.
The school has a partnership with the American Ballroom Theatre. Fourth and 5th grade students learn ballroom dancing techniques, hold school dances, and participate in competitions.
Kindergarten students currently have class outside the main building in temporary classrooms located next to a very outdated and unusable school playground. Principal Donnelly is working to secure funds for a new playground and for an updated library. Children use a neighborhood playground adjacent to the school during warm weather.
In an effort to improve the school's overall mediocre performance on standardized testing, children receive extra help at after-school and Saturday programs.
Special education: The program features "self-contained" classrooms (children with special needs only) as well as one "inclusion classroom" where special needs and general education students learn together.
After school: The program, which is optional but open to all students, features academic enrichment as well as recreation and the arts. (Melanie Acevedo, February 2005)