BRONX NY 10462 Map
PS/MS 194 is a brand new complex, built to ease overcrowding in other District 11 elementary and middle schools. Unlike many new schools, which begin with one or two grades and add others year-by-year, PS 194 opened in September 2003 as a full K-8 program.
PS/MS 168 is a "District 75" school for children with special education needs that occupies part of the second floor. The rest of the floor contains labs, and deans' and guidance offices. Another floor houses services such as speech therapy and programs to help English language learners as well as kids with difficulty reading. The combination of a clean, new environment and a pleasant, hard working principal is attracting battalions of parents eager, throughout the year, to enroll their children. Administrators check carefully to make sure applicants actually live in the neighborhood for which the school is designated.
PS/MS 194 has a state-of-the-art library, gym and auditorium. Every class boasts computers, while the art studio is equipped with light boxes. Soothing New Age music plays softly, and a "Learning Leaders" room is set-aside for parents helping students in reading workshops. We noticed a calm and mature conversation between a teacher and a student who was being told how to pull up grades by the next marking period.
Administrators apparently put a lot thought into getting the school off on a good foot. Food services made adjustments to accommodate the large Asian and Muslim population during holidays like Ramadan. And teachers with the strongest class management skills were wisely placed in upper grade classrooms, because administrators decided that older students transferring into the school could benefit from teachers clearly in control as they adjusted to a new setting and new rules. We observed students switching from one task to another with little fuss. Seventh graders were slightly louder than others, and a few dared to leave class without permission to go to the bathroom. However, the school's effective and organized school aides, who monitor hallways and lunchrooms, quickly shepherded them back where they belonged. The veteran aides help to hone the student's respect for the school and the adults in the building.
Some of the academic work we viewed, particularly elementary school writing, seemed a bit cookie-cutter. One bulletin board devoted to a class' study of the 1930's displayed The Depression News, which looked interesting until one read the clips - mostly identical in style and content.
A 3rd grade class we saw was another matter. When the teacher asked the kids to tell her what they had found difficult on an exam they had just taken and why, these fresh-faced kids responded clearly, with comments such as, "Two or three questions were really hard on the graphs, but I tried my best to figure out the right answer."
After school: In addition to test prep for 4th and 8th graders, the school offers chess and a basketball and flag football team for 7th and 8th graders. (Jacquie Wayans, January 2004)