PS/MS 8 Robert Fulton
BROOKLYN NY 11201 Map
PS/MS 8 Robert Fulton
PS/MS 8 is a popular neighborhood school with an active parents’ group, an imaginative curriculum, and a special focus on social studies. Parents are encouraged to bring their children right to their classrooms and are welcome in the school anytime, though they are not encouraged to sit in on classes. PS 8 parents have long wanted to add middle school grades to the successful Brooklyn Heights elementary school but it wasn't possible due to overcrowding in the small building. A solution was found by deciding to house middle school grades in a nearby career tech high school building, George Westinghouse, beginning in 2012.
The school’s curriculum focuses on problem solving and creativity. Teachers use Everyday Math with exemplars, story problems that allow students to work through problems in their own way. “Everybody is an individual. We shouldn’t just expect one way to get an answer,” explained Principal Seth Phillips. All students take dance, music, and drama classes. On our visit, 2nd graders rehearsed tap-dance routines in the auditorium.
Transitions between activities were quick, and students seemed engaged and interested in their classes. Social studies is a special focus. “When I reflect on what I did in school, it’s less on reading and writing and more on what I did in social studies and science. That’s where the joy comes from,” commented Phillips. Second graders worked on a “Box City” unit, in which they learned about community, business, and architecture by designing city buildings out of boxes. We saw restaurants, a bank, a hotel, and a fire department. Each “citizen” received $100 per day to “live” in the city, and even paid taxes.
After-school clubs offer drama, cheerleading, film, robotics, and gardening. The school has collaborations with Parsons The New School for Design and Guggenheim. A museum staff person visits the school to work with 3rd and 4th graders to create plays and art projects.
An annex to the overcrowded building opened in 2011, creating more space for art and music rooms, and a parent room where families can relax when they visit the school. Still the building remains above capacity: from 2006 to 2011 it grew from 369 students to nearly 600 as many more neighborhood families decided to send their children there.
In 2008, the school received a Blackboard Award, which honors and celebrates excellent schools in NYC. Graduating 5th graders go on to The Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters, Fort Greene Preparatory Academy and the Institute for Collaborative Education, but with the 2012 expansion into middle school grades, many students are likely to continue on at MS 8.
Special education: There is one inclusion class that combines students from grades K-5 and one Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) class per grade. Phillips emphasized that these classes challenge all students. “We make the classes the way I would want my kids’ classes to be.”
Admissions: Zoned neighborhood school; middle school choice with priority going to continuing PS 8 students. (Aryn Bloodworth, April 2011; updated February 2012)