P.S./M.S. 282 Park Slope
BROOKLYN NY 11217 Map
P.S./M.S. 282 Park Slope
PS 282 has a strong music and art program, a building with state-of-the-art resources, and a strong emphasis on preparing for standardized state exams. Its gifted program attracts students from across the district. However, teachers and some parents have clashed with the school’s strong-minded principal. The middle school launched in 2008 has struggled to find its academic footing.
Classrooms in the lower grades are welcoming, decorated with student work and have shelves packed with books. Swimming, violin, and piano are offered. On a tour for prospective parents, we saw children singing, dancing and engaged in creative lessons with desks organized in small groups. There were also classes in which children chanted phonics lessons in unison. Homework is assigned starting in kindergarten.
It is clear that testing mandates drive many lessons. A large display of student work in one hallway was headlined with “Level 4 students know how to:” referring to the highest level students can achieve on the state exams. Most displays of student work included the precise state standard being illustrated.
PS 282 is in the heart of one of the Brooklyn’s toniest neighborhoods, but 80 percent of its students come from outside the zone. Parents who live in the zone—primarily white and upper middle class—are increasingly sending their children to PS 282 for kindergarten and first grade, but most transfer out by second grade, opting for private schools or other public schools nearby.
Some parents have chafed at Principal Magalie Alexis’s style, which they find unwelcoming. Some say the atmosphere is too strict—and are put off by the way staff members blow whistles on the playground to keep order. Others defend Alexis’s “no-nonsense” approach, saying she keeps the building safe. Her defenders dispute the notion that she keeps parents out of the building. For example, parents are invited to sit in on classes and observe, according to a veteran teacher leading a parent tour.
A majority of teachers said on the learning survey they didn’t trust Alexis and that she was not an effective manager. “There is no way for teachers to be heard,” said one teacher who left in 2011. “She cares about the kids, but if you cross her as a teacher, she will make your life very difficult.”
Nonetheless, the administration has been extremely adept at digging up extra resources in a time of tight budgets. There are 20 graduate students doing their student teaching at the school. Local politicians have helped to fund a gleaming new science lab, a library under construction in 2011 and a media center, complete with 22 iPads that allow students to produce a school magazine. The school has partnerships with Lincoln Center, the YMCA, Ballet Tech and an after-school program run by Imani House.
Middle school students wear uniforms, are taught mostly on the third floor and use separate stairways “to minimize contact with the little kids,” a teacher told us. There are two self-contained special education classes and one inclusion class.
The administration is proud that 10 students passed math Regents in 2011, but overall the school has struggled to raise academic achievement. Classrooms and hallways were less orderly than the lower grades, and many students reported on the learning survey that some students act in a disrespectful way towards the teachers. Test scores for the middle school, while higher than the district wide averages, are lower than the elementary school.
Extracurriculars include hip hop dance, ballroom dancing, and vocals. Students interested in sports can play volleyball, double dutch, rugby, basketball, and run cross country.
There is an annual week-long trip to a farm in Vermont where the kids do all the farm chores. Students have also taken trips to Georgia, Tennessee, London, Cape Cod and visited colleges.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. District-wide gifted program. (Meredith Kolodner, October 2011)