P.S. 107 John W. Kimball

1301 8 AVENUE
Phone: (718) 499-2054
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood
Principal: Eve Litwack
Neighborhood: Park Slope
District: 15
Grade range: 0K thru 05
Parent coordinator: HEATHER DAMON

What's special:

Strong arts and gym programs; a warm community atmosphere

The downside:

Large class sizes and a serious space crunch

The InsideStats



Our review

Located on leafy Eighth Avenue in Park Slope, PS 107 has become increasingly popular and well-regarded. Principal Eve Litwack, who arrived on the job in the summer of 2011, hopes to bring the school to the next level in terms of learning. But she also must confront a mounting space crunch that threatens to further boost class size and chip away at some of the school's most attractive physical features.

Litwack, along with assistant principal Pascale Pradel, came from nearby PS 321 and Litwack plans to emulate many features of that large, popular school at the smaller PS 107. She hopes, for example, to develop a relationship with Teachers College.

Like PS 321, PS 107 does not offer a gifted program and has tried to downplay test prep. "School has to be a place where kids are totally engaged," Litwack says, and where they "feel respected and feel safe to take risks."

Despite large class sizes, most students seem absorbed in their work. Fifth readers listened attentively as a classmates described chemical reactions that create caves. Students were exploring many forms of writing: Some assembled nonfiction books on topics they knew about -- from Justin Beiber and vampires to Helen Keller, while kindergarteners colored pictures to accompany the poems they had read.

An increasing number of children in the neighborhood and the school's improved reputation, have created what a local newspaper called a "kinder-crunch." In spring 2011, the school had a kindergarten waiting list of about 50 students. As parents fretted, the school decided to do away with the pre-kindergarten class -- opening up space for a fifth kindergarten.

The 2011 crunch continued a trend. The school has only 75 5th graders but about 100 4th graders. As a result, the 4th grade has 31 students in a class. Given the tight space, the school no longer has space for students from outside its zone.

The squeeze is unlikely to abate as more 4-year-olds apply and the school seeks to accommodate an additional class on every grade level. This has left Litwack to ponder a number of alternatives, none of them appealing, including making greater use of the armory, where gym classes are now held, and converting some shared space to classrooms.

The 19th century building got a renovation in 1994, although it still has a rather cramped, awkward layout; some classrooms are only accessible by going through other classes. There is a large, sunny open space on the top floor used for the arts and as a library; a science lab boasts a trout tank along with conventional equipment.

Special Education: PS 107 follows special education rules requiring neighborhood schools to meet the needs of all children in their zone. There are no self-contained classes but there are integrated co-teaching classes for grades 3 and up.

The active PTA funds various arts offerings, including a program with the Brooklyn Museum of Art for kindergarten and 1st graders and  dance programs -- from African to ballroom for the 3rd and 4th grades. All students get a full year of art and music, except for 5th graders who take only music. Partly at the urging of parents, the school also emphasizes exercise.

Most students go on to District 15 middle schools, with MS 51, MS 447 and New Voices the most popular destinations. Each year some graduates leave the district to attend Mark Twain. (Gail Robinson, January 2012)

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