P.S. 41 Greenwich Village
Active parents and warm community in a well-run building in Greenwich Village
Limited music instruction
Nationally recognized for its writing program, PS 41 also has a thoughtful curriculum for science and social studies, a cohesive and experienced staff and a principal who is responsive to both parents and teachers. PS 41 serves the children of artists, bankers, lawyers and other professionals who raise more than half a million dollars a year for the PTA.
The strong synergy among the staff, and the administration's determination is inspiring. Visiting educators from around the world come for workshops on topics such as special education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). PS 41 has lovely facilities, standout teachers and a strong vision built on fostering student reflection and engagement in the world.
Families are active and welcome in the school. On one of our visits, kindergarten parents gathered for coffee in the cafeteria while Principal Kelly Shannon gave tips on how to best chaperone a class trip. Second-graders showed off the homemade books they had written, while parents read them and posted thoughtful comments. In the library, teachers and administrators from other cities gathered for a workshop on how to teach writing using methods developed at PS 41 in collaboration with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
The school combines a warm and relaxed tone with serious academics. Children may sprawl on the rug or in a bean bag chair to read a book, and some teachers are called by their first names. But the classes are focused and attentive and the work seems to be challenging. While a 2nd-grader might write about why he loves LEGOs or how she spends a family holiday, by 5th grade children analyze the U.S. Constitution or discuss current events. The social studies curriculum begins with a study of the school community, continues with a neighborhood study and ends with a study of the United States. Other units focus on China, Mexico or restaurants.
Exploration and conceptual understanding are integral to PS 41's math and science programs. The school uses the Investigations curriculum for math, a program that teaches students many different ways to solve a problem. The science rooms offer hands-on experiments: Children might learn about erosion by running water through boxes of sand, or learn how sound travels through water and air.
Children also carry out science experiments on the green roof, which was 10 years in the making. Unlike some rooftop science centers, this is a true "green roof" covered almost entirely in patches of vegetation with solar panels. Herbs are donated to a nearby soup kitchen, and strategically selected native plants attract rare birds, like a red cardinal students recently spotted.
The lunchroom is calmer and less chaotic than a typical school cafeteria. The food is better, too. A chef from Gramercy Tavern comes (as part of the restaurant study) and shares recipes with the kitchen staff. The social studies curriculum informs the menu: blackberries when the kids are studying Native Americans, dumplings when they are studying China. Even the renovated playground is pleasant: There is a nature garden with plants and seats for quiet activities, and the school hires young people who are trained as summer day camp counselors to organize games during recess.Pre-k has its own lovely side yard with climbing equipment and room for more free play.
The arts are strong at PS 41, and all students have instruction in the art room in addition to an extra program for upper graders that combines poetry and visual expression. Art teacher Toni Serratelli spent 2015 in a teacher exchange program with the Whitney Museum of American Art, and PS 41 was selected as a Whitney Partnership School for the 2016-17 school year. The National Dance Institute offers dance lessons, and 5th-graders put on musicals like "Oliver!" each spring.
Music instructon is limited and some parents we spoke with said they wished an intrumental music program could be introduced to all grades. There is an introduction to violin starting in 2nd-grade.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The staff takes pride in identifying learning issues early and providing extra support for children with disabilities without stigma. The school has three speech therapists (whose work includes helping children with reading). It offers occupational therapy, physical therapy and ICT team-teaching classes.
ADMISSIONS: The school was once severely overcrowded, with persistent waitlists for kindergarten. The opening of a new school, The Sixth Avenue School, has eased the problem and waitlists are "manageable," the parent coordinator told us. (Aimee Sabo, May 2016)
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Manhattan NY 10011