P.S. 46 Edward C. Blum
BROOKLYN NY 11205 Map
P.S. 46 Edward C. Blum
PS 46 features several passionate educators with a creative flare. The school offers bilingual classes to accommodate the many English language learners and will start a Spanish-English Dual Language program, beginning with pre-K and kindergarten classes in September, 2009. The facility has plenty of room and is meticulously maintained.
Building and location: PS 46 is tucked away on a quiet residential street, where there is a mix of newly renovated brownstones, detached houses, and dilapidated buildings. The 1950s building's square-box lines are softened by stately oak trees and eye-catching pocket gardens freshly planted by the student environmental club. A mural graces the south wall and there is a large, well-equipped playground. Inside is a gorgeous auditorium, full-size gym, a sparkling Robin Hood Foundation Library, two art rooms, a science room and a computer lab.
School environment and culture: Principal Karyn Nicholson arrived in January 2009, following the retirement of Brenda Hill. Nicholson says she is fortunate because Hill left the school on a solid footing in terms of test scores and attendance and had assembled an experienced staff of talented educators. The student body is mostly African-American and Hispanic, but Nicholson said she is seeing more diversity, including some Chinese students. Three nearby homeless shelters feed into the school, making for a somewhat transient population. Nicholson is candid about students who have behavioral and learning issues, but she credits the staff with "jumping right on" any problems. We were impressed by the quantity and quality of student art work and multi-media projects that grace the hallways.
Teaching and curriculum: With two dedicated art teachers on staff, some students have art twice a week. Technology also has its place: There are laptop carts and SmartBoards in use at each grade level as well as in the literacy center. An energetic and passionate computer teacher has worked to make her room a vital resource for everyone, including parents who are learning English. In addition to teaching classes, she spends four periods per week training teachers on how to use technology to enhance instruction.
A tour of the classrooms showed that some teachers really have fun with the curriculum. A class studying the rainforest had turned their room into something out of "Where the Wild Things Are." In a 5th-grade class, a teacher was assisting students as they set up fictional businesses, an approach that helped combine writing, thinking, and math exercises. During a science session in the lab, 4th-graders were having a lively discussion about nutrition with the part-time science teacher who comes into the classroom three days a week. Third-graders study world cultures end each unit with museum-like displays showing writings, artwork, and other projects. While most classrooms seemed fertile ground for learning, at least one first grade classroom was strikingly devoid of student work. Nicholson says an immediate challenge for her is strengthening program in the early grades. She hopes that a new reading program in K-2 and more teacher training will mean stronger student performance.
Students who need extra help with math and English Language Arts benefit from small group instruction, while higher performing students can join book clubs or participate in music activities in a room well-stocked with drums, xylophones, recorders, and guitars as well as a piano.
The school hosts an annual spring curriculum fair. Second-graders built five foot cardboard models of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building after studying New York City. One group of science students had a graphic display of what happens to water as it is works its way through a street drainage system. Pre-kindergartners walked visitors through a butterfly's life cycle. As with any school serving a population with diverse needs, some projects were not perfect, but the pride and energy the students had put into their work was nice to see.
Family participation: The PTA is active and volunteers help with lunch duty every day. The school hosted its First Annual Family Arts Day in 2009, which featured a massive outdoor display of children's art as well as Salsa Dancing, Tai Chi, face painting, and mural painting. Various award assemblies also bring parents into the school. On Saturdays, parents can participate in a GED program with babysitting provided. There is also ESL course for parents after school.
The social services agency, Partnership with Children, provides a wide range of services including counseling, a girls group, and peer mediation. The agency also oversees the student government, the environmental club, and a student newspaper. A community organization, Counseling in Schools, provides support for about 15 students in temporary housing. A partnership with the Museum of Modern Art lets students visit the museum and make their own art to bring back to PS 46. Musicians from the New York Philharmonic visit classrooms and do a performance for all students.
After school: English as a Second Language (ESL) and math instruction are provided for students who need extra help.
Special education: The school provides self-contained classes.
English as a second language: About 25 percent of students are English Language Learners. The school offers a Spanish bilingual program. (Sara Doar, May 2009)