MANHATTAN NY 10013 Map
Tucked away at the top of a steep flight of stairs in Tribeca, tiny PS 150 offers a seamless integration of the arts and technology, as well as hands-on science and related field trips. The school's small size, super-involved parents and vibrant arts-infused academics set it apart from many large Manhattan schools.
The children are a savvy and opinionated bunch who stay together for all six years in this one-class-per-grade school. Classes are large, up to 28 in some grades, and children delve into small group discussions with gusto. In some instances, however, the big classes feel unwieldy, like during a lesson we observed in which the kids sat in a overly long circle as each child weighed in on a question posed by the teacher.
Visiting artists integrate storytelling, opera, puppetry and architecture into the school’s own art and music programs, according to the city’s quality review. Technology is integrated as seamlessly into the academics as the arts. During a 5th grade science class we observed, students took notes on iPads as they watched a movie about nutrition called Super Size Me, after which they participated in an experiment on carbohydrates and recorded their findings on laptops. A child mentioned that a study of the rock cycle culminated in student-made podcasts.
Grades 3-5 visit the small basement science lab that doubles as a library three times a week. Science and social studies topics include primates, snakes, immigration and bridges. Children travel to Frost Valley to take a closer look at animals, rock and minerals; they sail on the Clearwater to learn more about the water cycle. “We do a lot of field trips and experiments,” said a student. Units of study culminate twice a year in school wide presentations and discussion forums.
Principal Jenny Bonnet replaced long-time principal Maggie Siena in March 2012. Bonnet was academic director at the Special Music School - another small school with only one class per grade - and is a graduate of Hunter College. Bonnet has placed an emphasis on character education according to an interview in DNAinfo.
PS 150 switched from TERC Investigations to Math in Focus (the American version of Singapore Math) in order to align with the common core standards and because teachers and parents have seen gaps in Investigations over the years. The biggest challenge for kids with Math in Focus is the language and the multi-step processes a staffer said. Unfortunately, the in-house math coach position was cut in 2013-2014 due to budgetary restrictions.
There is no lunchroom but kids eat a delicious family-style lunch in the classrooms and the nutrition program weaves together many subjects and is touted by parents as the best in the district. The outdoor courtyard of the apartment complex serves as the gym and this space provides a welcome central gathering spot for families in the morning [see photo at right]. Hula hoops, balls and other games are brought out during lunch, recess and gym.
A controversial plan to move the school to the Foundling School at West 17th Street and Sixth Avenue was dropped after an outpouring of complaints from the PS 150 community.
Admissions: Priority to siblings and students zoned for PS 234 and PS 89. Remaining seats are filled by lottery with District 2 preference. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, DOE data, and a brief school visit, October 2013)