P.S. 15 Patrick F. Daly
BROOKLYN NY 11231 Map
P.S. 15 Patrick F. Daly
OCTOBER 2012 UPDATE: PS 15 has been designated as a school with a "noteworthy" special education program, according to Insideschools.This school has a high percentage of special education students and offers both self-contained and team teaching classes. Many of its students receive occupation or physical therapy. The Department of Education has recognized its efforts to close the achievement gap among special ed students.
JUNE 2008 REVIEW: PS 15, with its brand-new playground (complete with Astroturf "lawn") and inviting classrooms, offers the children of Red Hook a safe and stimulating educational haven. The energy and enthusiasm apparent in the classrooms and out whether kids are collaborating on endangered-species projects (using books, sticky notes, and teetering laptops to craft their own reports) or weeding and planting in the school's National Wildlife Habitat-certified inner courtyard makes PS 15 a cheery, busy, buzzing place, where students and teachers are well-engaged in the work of discovery and learning.
The intimacy and focus are deliberate, according to Principal Peggy Wyns-Madison, who served as assistant principal before taking over in 2007, and School Leadership Chair Denise Leonard, a teacher who has worked at PS 15 for more than 30 years. School-based budgeting has helped PS 15 create very small classes "to give kids the attention they maybe didn't get that morning in the house," according to Leonard. Aware of the complex challenges that might affect young students, especially in struggling families, "we address the problems in the early grades," she says, and so "have very few surprises when they're in third grade."
Another strategy has been a strong focus on curriculum, with ample attention to the basics of literacy. For example, in addition to the citywide reading and writing-workshop model, PS 15 adds phonemic awareness and grammar basics to early-grades literacy. One giggling first-grade class we visited sang, tapped, and spoke consonant blends as students tried to top each other in listing words that ended with "-ing."
Teachers at PS 15 are warm and accessible to their students, and work in close collaboration with their peers. Classrooms abound in student work, art, and teacher-made materials; artwork, maps, and student writing spill off bulletin boards and along the school's broom-clean hallways. (Full-time music and art teachers offer arts instruction across the grades; there's even a reggae band for special-education students.) Technology is abundant, including laptops and interactive electronic "smart board" wall terminals, and in near constant use.
The playground (with a small baseball diamond and four-square court) and climbing equipment are open to the community after school hours; students participated in the design, with the Trust for Public Land.
About a quarter of the school's students have special education needs, according to the principal. The school's long-established Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes, which mix both special education and general education students looked and felt like all other classrooms, both in terms of material resources and liveliness. One special education class took a field trip to the Red Hook farm "We saw the chickens!" where many PS 15 students raise lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables for eventual consumption in the school cafeteria. Students in all classes have also visited the Morgan Library, the China Institute, and the Jewish and Brooklyn Museums.
While many new residents are flowing into rapidly gentrifying Red Hook, the principal says too many families are flowing out, displaced by high rents. Another potential drain on students, the PAVE (Perseverance, Achievement, Vibrance and Excellent character) Academy, a new charter school, will open in PS 15 in September 2008 and remain for two years, until the DOE assigns it a permanent home. To allay concerns that PAVE will erode enrollment, PS 15 has organized a monthly family workshop staffed with PS 15 teachers, called Toddler Time, to invite local families into the building. On the day we visited, the many attendees formed an international mix of women speaking Spanish, women in headscarves and long robes, and heavily-inked hipster moms all chatting over cookies as their toddlers played underfoot.
Denise Leonard remembers the years when PS 15 was considered a poor cousin to other District 15 schools; she was one of the last people to see beloved Principal Patrick Daly before his violent death in 1992. In 2008, it seems a hopeful place. A Beacon/Good Shepherd program, providing academic and social services beyond the school day to PS 15 students and the wider community, confers extra stability and support. A nurse-practitioner stationed at the school provides basic medical care, including immunizations and pre-registration medicals, for the children of the community.
PS 15 graduates attend local middle schools, including MS 51, MS 88, New Voices, MS 447, Sunset Park Prep, and the nearby School for Leadership. (A lack of public transportation no subways makes commuting to Manhattan and outer-Brooklyn schools a discouraging prospect.)
Special education: Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) and self-contained classes for students with special needs.
After-school programs: The Beacon program offers various after-school recreation and academic programs at PS 15. (Helen Zelon, June 2008)