P.S. 217 Colonel David Marcus School

1100 NEWKIRK AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11230 Map
Phone: (718) 434-6960
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood school
Wheelchair accessible
Noteworthy
Principal: FRANCA CONTI
Neighborhood: Midwood
District: 22
Grade range: 0K thru 05
Parent coordinator: JUDITH VAN SITTEREN

What's special:

A polyglot population is well-served.

The downside:

Class sizes can get large.

The InsideStats

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http://insideschools.org/


Our review

PS 217 is a large, popular neighborhood school with a strong arts focus and a multi-ethnic group of children who speak 23 languages. The administration welcomes parents and takes their suggestions seriously--whether it's a request for a salad bar in the cafeteria or after school chess classes.

The school offers rich drama, music and art classes. Children put on two plays a year, with scripts the school librarian adapts from children's books including Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. When the federal magnet grant that paid for the arts expired, parents stepped in to raise money to make sure the programs continued. Art classes may include animation and filmmaking; children may play the recorder, sing or learn to play percussion instruments in music.

The building is clean and well maintained, with spotless bathrooms, and a well-equipped computer lab and a dedicated science room. The large, attractive library is open to both parents and students at 8 a.m., so children who don't have computers at home can work.

Children appeared to be at ease and happy on our visit. There is plenty of time for free play, including outdoor recess. Teachers encourage children to take fitness breaks in class, called "Move to Improve," to relieve any restlessness they might experience and to help them make a smooth transition from one activity to the next.

The student population is both racially and economically mixed: Children walk to school from modest apartment buildings and grand Victorian houses. More than 250 children are learning English as a Second Language.

Franca Conti, principal since 2004 and an immigrant herself, is sensitive to children who are learning English. She favors hiring bilingual teachers whenever possible, and many of her teachers are immigrants as well.

The school has its own gifted and talented program, although it is not designated as such by the Department of Education. Children are placed in the gifted kindergarten class based on their score on the city's G&T exam; older children are placed according to their teachers recommendation.

The school's population has grown in recent years. Class sizes are rather large; 25 for kindergarten but about 30 for the other grades. There are three lunch periods, beginning at 10:30 a.m. There are vegetarian meals available as well as a salad bar that is manned by the older children. Children sometimes eat vegetables that they have grown in an outdoor garden.

An extensive after school program includes clubs in movement and exercise; puppets and marionette; American Sign Language; chess; singing and dancing; digital photography; aerobics; drama Club, Violin and Trumpet. Many of the clubs contribute to the two major performances the school produces per year. Some of the clubs are run by parents who are arts professionals.

Special education: The school offers team teaching, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. There are two psychologists, a social worker and a family worker on staff. Vision and hearing teachers visit regularly. The school has an elevator and is barrier free, and it serves both physically handicapped children and those on the autism spectrum.

Admissions: Neighborhood school. The school offers tours for prospective parents and often has a few seats for children from outside the attendance zone. (Eliana Mascio, February 2013)

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