P.S. 198 Isador E. Ida Straus
MANHATTAN NY 10128 Map
P.S. 198 Isador E. Ida Straus
SEPTEMBER 2012 UPDATE: PS 198 has a new principal: Nancy Cabrero, formerly assistant principal at the Lower Lab School for Gifted Education. Cabrero, the child of Cuban immigrants (her father owned a barber shop near the school) attended PS 198 as a child and was a teacher there. In an interview with the Spanish language blog Impremedia while she was still at Lab, she said she has "an open door for teachers, students and their parents. Everyone knows where to find me." The blog post called her an energetic leader whose "batteries never give out."
JANUARY 2011 REVIEW: PS 198, a zoned neighborhood school, has long shared a building with PS 77, The Lower Lab School for Gifted Education. Now, PS 198 has added its own gifted program, starting with two kindergarten classes in 2010. Parent involvement has increased, a parent association website is in the works, and parents are doing more fund-raising events. "The gifted and talented program has already made a positive difference in the climate of the school," said Principal Sharon Jeffrey-Roebuck, an educator with more than 30 years of experience.
PS 198's strengths include a free after-school program and a prekindergarten program (rare on the Upper East Side). Activities include basketball, chess, swimming, drama, ballroom dance, music, French, Spanish and yoga. On our visit, we saw classrooms filled with student work and colorful teaching charts. Class size ranged from 22 in the lower grades to 28 in the upper grades—smaller than many other schools in the district.
The quality of teaching varied. We saw some excellent teaching, with clear instructions and engaged kids. In one class, kids read quietly on interlocking floor mats and wrote with concentration in small groups at tables. We saw an expert math lesson in which children learned to calculate the area of a rectangle. However, in a few classes, children were distracted and wasted considerable time as they moved from one activity to another. In one class we visited, teachers spoke repeatedly to children to get them to quiet down.
More communication” between parents and staff would make the school even stronger, according to the parent of a 4th- grader, himself a PS 198 graduate. About twenty parents are fingerprinted through the Department of Education and trained to volunteer as Learning Leaders or lunch helpers. Teachers send home monthly newsletters and many have created their own websites. They are available for scheduled conferences, by phone or by email and greet parents at the beginning and end of the day.
PS 198 shares a 1950s era building with the Lab School, a gifted program that has its own entrance, arrival time and dismissal time. Although there is little interaction between the children in the two schools, neither is there friction, parents say. The Lab School serves a predominantly white, middle class population, while PS 198 serves a racially mixed population that includes many children who are poor enough to qualify for free lunch. Lab has a Parents Association that raises a significant amount of money and has a few extras—like curtains in the classrooms—that make it seem a little cheerier than PS 198. PS 198 parents are hopeful that they can begin to raise more money for extras, too.
Special Education: There are classes on all grade levels that mix children receiving special education services with those in general education in the same class. These classes have two teachers, one who is trained to teach special education. There are two small classrooms just for special needs children, one at the kindergarten level and one for 1st through 3rd graders. Students of all abilities are together for lunch, recess, field trips, special projects and performances.
Admissions: neighborhood school. Children may apply to the gifted program by taking the OLSAT exam administered by the Department of Education. (Lydie Raschka, January 2011)