MANHATTAN NY 10282 Map
IS 289 is an unusually calm and gentle school, where children seem to be kind to one another and even the cafeteria is pleasant. Parents choose the school for its relaxed atmosphere and for its attention to children's social and emotional development as well as for its solid academics. Parents appreciate the fact that the kids aren't overly competitive and don't have excessive amounts of homework (1 to 2 hours a night is typical). Although classes are large, teachers are attentive and the principal knows every child.
IS 289, which shares a building with PS 89, was built by the Battery Park City Authority in 1998. The elementary school serves neighborhood children, but the middle school is open to students who come from across District 2. The building, adjacent to the site of the World Trade Center, has commanding views of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and Liberty Park. One of the most attractive physical plants in the city, the building has nooks in the halls for kids to work individually or in groups, spaces for community meetings, and large, sunny, quiet classrooms designed so kids can move around.
Teachers are young and energetic and seem to have a good grasp of their subject matter and an affection and respect for the children in their care. On one of my visits, 6th-graders studying ancient civilizations were preparing projects on topics such as the role of women in ancient Egypt and Greece. Two girls were sprawled on the floor of the corridor, large sheets of paper spread on the floor with an outline of their project. An 8th-grade science class was conducting an "energy audit" of the building, calculating, for example, how much heat was wasted when windows were open.
IS 289 uses the Connected Math curriculum, an approach that encourages problem solving rather than memorizing formulas. Kids seemed happy and engaged in the math class I visited. Instruction in instrumental music (woodwinds, brass, and strings) is offered twice a week. Middle-schoolers also have "advisory" periods twice a week, in which they can talk with a teacher and a group of other students about anything that might be bothering them.
There is a "self-contained" special education class for students with speech and language delays. These students seem well integrated into the life of the school, and the classroom is as cheery and well-equipped as others in the building.
Admisssions: Prospective parents may visit the school in the fall. The administration is committed to having a range of academic abilities, a mix of children from different ethnic groups and income levels, and a geographic distribution of children within District 2. Students submit teacher recommendations and a writing sample, and are interviewed in a group. (This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Middle Schools. Clara Hemphill, 2004)