P.S. 32 Samuels Mills Sprole
BROOKLYN NY 11231 Map
P.S. 32 Samuels Mills Sprole
A tiny neighborhood school with small classes and lots of individual attention, PS 32 has room to grow. The administration hopes the addition of a gifted and talented program in the fall of 2011 will add a nice balance to the school’s already excellent special education program.
Some classes are as small as 12; none of the classes we visited had more than 20 children. Nearly every class has two teachers, and most are certified as both a regular classroom teacher and in special education. About one-third of the children are eligible for special education services, and there is a wide range of extra help available including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech. The school is particularly known for its NEST program in which high-functioning children with autism learn the critical social skills that otherwise elude them.
Teachers are gentle and patient: we heard no raised voices on our tour. It took children a while to settle down in a few classes we visited, but they seemed happy and mostly engaged. A newly refurbished track and playground give children plenty of room to play. A teacher who runs the recently renovated library also helps children with creative projects like a Podcast of a student-led audio tour of the school. The school has an extensive arts program and a well-equipped music room. A reward system called “positive behavior intervention” encourages good behavior: kids get “money” to spend on items such as books, pencils and games in a school store if they follow the school rules.
PS 32 hasn’t been as popular in recent years as nearby PS 58, PS 29 and PS 261, but as those schools have become increasingly crowded, some parents are giving PS 32 another look. “The school has really, really impressed me,” said parent Larissa Bailiff, whose son is in a class that integrates children on the autism spectrum with children in general education. “There is a great energy here. It’s very safe. I think we’re on the upswing. The teachers are great.”
While the skills level of many students is low, teachers make an effort to challenge kids at the top as well as give support to those who are struggling. For example, 5th graders read works of historical fiction; the strongest students created a play about the book they read, while the weaker students read an easier book and created dioramas.
The PS 32 attendance zone includes the well-kept brownstones of Carroll Gardens and the Gowanus housing projects. Attendance, while increasing, is lower that the citywide average. Deborah Florio, principal since 2007, said the school is addressing the issue with an automatic telephone system to call parents when their children miss school.
PS 32 shares a building with MS 442, New Horizons, a school with a similar philosophy. Good Shepherd Services, a not-for-profit social services agency, runs an afterschool program that is open during vacations and holidays as well.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. Special needs children are placed in the school by the city's enrollment office. Students who score at the 90 percentile or above on citywide assessments qualify for the district G&T program. (Clara Hemphill, May 2011)