Academy for New Americans
QUEENS NY 11102 Map
Academy for New Americans
IS 235 takes special pride in making its space look inviting, perhaps to make up for the years it spent in a tiny, windowless building after opening in 1996 a space so small that it lacked a gym and lunchroom. Now in a new building shared with PS 234 the school features green plants that make the bright hallways and rooms lively and warm. Student writing and illustrations cover the walls in a fashion reminiscent of a nurturing elementary school. At the time of our visit, teachers were discussing plans to renovate the science classroom, already nicely decorated with fish tanks, professional models of embryos, and handmade models of volcanoes, many of which are labeled in Spanish and English.
Students seemed happy at this school, and during our visit we noticed that they waved to founding principal Carmen Iris Rivera in the halls or greeted her formally as a class when she visited their rooms. All the teachers spoke at least two languages, and children felt comfortable approaching adults.
The school is meant to be a stepping-stone for new arrivals, so the school tries to smooth the transition between cultures for children adjusting to a new home, the English language, and, often, unfamiliar guardians. Some students have been separated for up to 10 years from parents who settled in the United States before sending for them. "Reunion is very difficult for the children," says Rivera, who adds that discipline problems in school often stem from family problems at home.
Students who live near each other may be paired so that they can take the bus or subway together to travel to school or home. (Sixth graders get busing.) In classes, new students are linked with a classmate who speaks their language. A small library houses books of varying difficulty in different languages, including Chinese and Arabic. We especially took note of the Spanish-language edition of The Canterbury Tales.
Students receive 90 minutes of English language instruction every day. They also take a language lab class where they focus on reading skills. Math, science, and social studies are offered in English-only or Spanish bilingual classes. Spanish is the dominant language among the students, but the school also gets Asian, Middle Eastern, and European children. There is also a Saturday program.
Because IS 235 is so small and meant to be a transitional school, students can stay for a year only. They may then transfer to their local middle- or high school. According to Rivera, many students go on to the international high schools in the city.
Admissions: IS 235 is open to children living in Queens. Students may enroll year round. (Catherine Man, February 2006)