P.S. 130 The Parkside

Phone: (718) 686-1940
Website: Click here
Admissions: Neighborhood school
Neighborhood: Kensington/ Windsor Terrace
District: 15
Grade range: PK thru 05
Parent coordinator: JAQUELIN SERRA

What's special:

Diversity; rich arts programming

The downside:

No gym

The InsideStats



Our review

At PS 130 the Parkside School, located in a handsome historic building just off of busy Fort Hamilton Parkway, all students get a well-rounded education that includes a healthy dose of visual arts, music and puppetry, along with academics.

The arts are "non-negotiable for developing the whole child," says the school's longtime principal, Maria Nunziata. Children learn visual arts and writing skills in a puppetry program, creating puppets and writing the scripts for puppet shows. Students in pre-k through 3rd grade begin by creating shadow puppets, and by the time they leave the school, they will have made life-size puppets for schoolyard performances.

The upper grades have art class in a studio in the cafeteria and are encouraged to use their imagination and creativity rather than just doing cookie-cutter or representational art. PS 130 participates in the annual P. S. Art competition, and had two finalists in 2008 and 2011.

Under the tutelage of a music teacher and a visiting concert pianist, all students learn how to play the keyboard and study the lives of composers. Grades 3 through 5 learn how to play recorders. PS 130's best musicians are invited yearly to play with the Carnegie Hall orchestra. Children also learn to play chess. When we visited, a 2nd grade class was eagerly setting up chess boards after completing a lesson on strategies for how to capture the queen. The children had proposed all the strategies.

Math is taught using Math Think, a program that focuses on teaching students how to be problem solvers by applying a variety of math strategies. The annual science fair had 120 participants in 2011. In the well-equipped science lab, students were watching and caring for small animals. A fifth grade class of special needs students was excited after finding a new litter of gerbils. Duck eggs were waiting to hatch in an incubator. A specialized social studies teacher brings fun activities into classrooms.

PS 130 is proud of its socio-emotional learning program developed with the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. The program helps children learn empathy and how to express their feelings. As early as kindergarten, volunteers become "peacekeepers" to help classmates in need. Peacekeepers advance to become mediators in the 3rd grade, when they begin to work with their peers to help them get along better. Two mediators we spoke to had just finished helping a parent understand how to fill in a school survey.

The clean and well-kept building dates from 1903 and has a few shortcomings. There is no gym, or physical education teacher, so teachers get trained to lead activities in the cafeteria, classroom and in the outdoor playground. There is a 25 minute recess period daily.

Parents volunteer in the office and cafeteria after being certified by taking a two-day course with the non-profit Learning Leaders. PS 130's active PTA participates in school yard repairs and brings in community partners to boost the school's physical education offerings.

Special education: The school offers occupational and speech therapy and a resource room is staffed by a psychologist and a social worker. The only self-contained class graduates in 2012. There is at least one Integrated Co-Teaching class on every grade level, with two teachers, one certified in special education. More will open in the lower grades, the principal said. In all classrooms we visited, special needs students were fully engaged in the same activities as their peers.

English Language Learners: Some 10 percent of the students are English Language Learners, representing 28 different languages.

After school: In a partnership with University Settlement, 130 students receive after school instruction. The school offers homework help, science, art, karate, and cooking clubs and tap dancing for 4th graders. There are weekend chess tournaments. The PTA sponsors a fee-based after school club with art, music, and drama.

Many of P.S. 130's graduates go to large District 15 middle schools:  MS 51 and MS 88. (Eliana Mascio, March 2012)

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