I.S. 204 Oliver W. Holmes
QUEENS NY 11106 Map
I.S. 204 Oliver W. Holmes
SEPTEMBER 2008 UPDATE: Yvonne Leimsider, formerly an assistant principal at the school, is now principal.
OCTOBER 2003 REVIEW: Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School is going through a period of transition. Longtime principal Phil Composto was succeeded in the spring of 2003 by Thomas Semanski, formerly an assistant principal at IS 145. In addition, because of the new curriculum adopted by the Department of Education, IS 204 which is on the state list of schools that need improvement has had to make significant adjustments to its program.
During our discussions, Semanski emphasized his philosophy of educating the whole student, an approach he felt was particularly important for middle school students. Semanski also works hard to communicate with and involve parents. The parent coordinator, who served as the family worker at the school last year, knows the families and the individual situations of students well. Semanski believes that communication between the school and parents should mean more than conveying bad news. Therefore, often to their shock, parents have received phone calls to report on children's successes not just their problems.
Because of the time demands of the new English language arts (ELA) and math curriculum, the school has had to eliminate some course offerings, among them an unpopular language program. Others are still offered, but not during regular school hours. Home economics/cooking and some sports programs have been moved to before the start of the school day; art and music into after school programs. The school still pairs core classes ELA with social studies, science with math in 6th grade but phases this out in 7th.
We saw one very exciting 7th grade ELA teacher leading a lively discussion comparing several of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. One 6th grade math teacher, who said he was still working his way through the new "IMPACT" math program, reported that his students' scores on tests he had given had risen substantially with the advent of the new program.
While we encountered some students wandering in the halls and a few other disciplinary problems, the school seemed to be relatively disciplined and noise levels in the halls were manageable. The students we met were well-mannered, engaged in their work and eager to speak with us.
Special education: The school has approximately 200 students receiving special education services. There are both inclusion and self-contained classes, and there is an assistant principal dedicated to the special education program. (Tom Huser, October 2003)