P.S. 235 Janice Knight School

Phone: (718) 773-4869
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood school/gifted program
Wheelchair accessible
Principal: Laurence Lord
Neighborhood: East Flatbush
District: 18
Grade range: 0K thru 08

What's special:

High performing school attracts children from across Brooklyn

The downside:

One principal oversees three far-flung locations

The Inside Stats



Our review

PS 235 is a gigantic neighborhood school with a long history of high academic standards and a well-regarded dance program. Children from across Brooklyn apply to SOAR, as the school’s enrichment program for academically gifted students is known, and to its selective middle school, Lenox Academy.

SOAR, which stands for Stimulating Outstanding Achievement through Reading, is no longer officially a “gifted” program since the Department of Education centralized admission to “gifted and talented” programs. However, out-of-zone children may take a test at the school in January or February to be admitted to the SOAR program, a school official said. More than half of the classes at PS 235 are designated as SOAR classes, according to the school website. PS 235 consistently posts high test scores.

The sprawling school occupies three buildings, each several miles from the others. The main building houses pre-kindergarten classes and grades 3-5. Some children in grades K-2 attend classes in the main building and some travel by bus to the Early Childhood Center at 5811 Ditmas Ave. at 58th Street (718 629-6875). The Lenox Academy, serves about 300 students in grades 6-8 at 100-01 Flatlands Avenue (718-927-5228), a building it shares with () Olympus Academy, a small alternative high school. One principal, Laurence Lord, oversees all three buildings, as well as an annex called a “minischool” and portable classrooms next to the main building.

The middle school offers an accelerated program and all students are expected to take a math and Living Environment Regents exam, as well as the Spanish proficiency test, at the end of 8th grade. Over 90 percent of 8th graders leave the school with six high school credits. English and social studies classes are combined, with students getting a total of 12 periods a week. Sixth and 7th graders also take art, while 8th graders concentrate  on the core academic subjects. Students are expected to push themselves. "We never praise students for being smart," assistant principal Joseph Giamportone says, "instead we tell them, 'You must have worked really hard.'"

Middle school students we spoke with said teachers make an effort to help students when the work became difficult. Several told us they liked Lenox Academy's small size and friendliness. "It's like a big sisterhood, a big brotherhood here," one said.

The school has stable leadership. Lord, formerly assistant principal, replaced Lisa Solitario in 2012. Solitario had been principal since the 2007 death of long-time principal Janice Knight, for whom the school is named. Teachers and parents agree the school has high expectations, according to the Learning Environment Survey. Teachers agree the school is orderly, and middle school students responding to the survey reported few problems with  gangs or fighting, although more than a third said they did not feel safe outside the school building.

Dancers and artists from National Dance Institute (NDI), a program founded by Jacques d'Amboise, offers dance instruction to all 4th graders at the school. [See photo on this page] Some go on to dance in NDI’s citywide children’s dance troupe.

Special education: Only a small percentage of students receive special education services, although the school does have self-contained classes.

Admissions: Zoned neighborhood school. Out-of-district children may take an exam for the SOAR program in January and February. Students interested in the middle school must apply by February. Those with sufficiently high test scores and good 4th grade records are invited to take a test in March. Admission then is offered to students on the basis of the test scores alone. Call the school for the date of the middle school open house.(Clara Hemphill, interviews, February 2013; Gail Robinson, middle school open house, November 2013)



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