P.S. 164 Caesar Rodney
BROOKLYN NY 11219 Map
P.S. 164 Caesar Rodney
Education is celebrated at PS 164. Each school year starts with a parent/student countdown before a release of confetti and balloons. Whether it was the science teacher discussing the student ant farm, the 5th grade teacher helping students learn word structure and related words, or the music teacher sharing the joys of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, what we saw on our visit indicated that this excitement extends throughout the year. Wherever we went, students were actively engaged in their work and appearing to enjoy themselves.
The school uses the "balanced literacy" approach to reading instruction -- it borrows from "whole language" (recognizing words by sight) and phonics (sounding them out). Writing is taught by the "workshop" model, which emphasizes drafting and revision of compositions and also encourages group work. It was clear to us the rollout of these methods with plenty of teacher support, and even today extensive professional development is evident.
PS 164 is set up like a giant educational living room: comfortable chairs, beanbags, and work areas are scattered throughout the school, including hallways, giving students plenty of space for individual and group work. Adults are always present where the kids are, but hallway supervision has a gentle touch and kids seem to respond well to this. Children we saw were reading and discussing their work actively even without an adult at their heels.
While PS 164 is a neighborhood school, it draws few students from the immediate area, a largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood with many children enrolled in religious schools. The result is that PS 164 recruits from outside the neighborhood -- and is able to maintain smaller class sizes.
Students wear uniforms: gray pants, white shirts, and burgundy plaid ties for boys; burgundy plaid jumpers or gray pants, white blouses, and burgundy snap ties for girls.
The school has a well-equipped computer room. At the time we visited, the 3rd -- 5th grades were working on an Internet research project looking at the stories of places around the world named Brooklyn, not just the one in New York. Kids aren't the only ones learning computer skills. At the request of parents, the school offers technology training for adults several times a year. At the time of our visit, 18 parents were enrolled.
Among the school's extracurricular offerings are band and chorus for grades 3 to 5 and ballroom dance with the American Ballroom Theater, a professional troupe, for grades 4 and 5. The school also has lunchtime clubs in chess, basketball, Scrabble, crocheting, and other activities.
English as a Second Language: About 130 students receive English Language Learner services. On our visit, we saw an English as a Second Language class working on the concept of beginnings and ends to stories.
Special education: An extensive program assists more than 100 students, or almost one fifth of the student population at PS 164. Principal, Margaret Choy-San, has a special education background, and this has allowed her to effectively integrate the special education program into the general education program as that has developed. There is only one Spanish bilingual class in the school, solely for children with special needs, but there are team-taught classes, with one special education teacher and one general education teacher, at each grade level. In addition a school in District 75, which serves children with severe disabilities, occupies part of the building's fourth floor and offers a well-regarded program for autistic children.
After school: The school offers academic assistance three days a week. The school plans on starting a Saturday academy in January, 2005 for 3rd and 4th graders to help prepare them for standardized tests. The school also provides academic assistance services before school. (Tom Huser, December 2004)