P.S. 307 Daniel Hale Williams
Brooklyn NY 11201
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
Welcoming tone and great program for students on the autism spectrum
Needy students provide challenges with academics and attendance
Good things are happening at PS 307. Classrooms are calm and welcoming, with high levels of student engagement. Class size is small and most classes have at least two adults. Particularly in the lower grades, the writing and art work posted on bulletin boards is rich and creative, showing attentive teaching editing the students work. In one pre-k class, children sang Hello, hello, how do you do? In another, they measured their heights with yarn.
Principal Stephanie Carroll, whose own children attended the progressive Midtown West School in Manhattan, encourages teachers to create imaginative lessons with plenty of time for play and exploration. Student teachers and volunteers ensure children get plenty of attention.
The school boasts two well-stocked music classrooms. Each has keyboards where all students learn some keyboarding, and fifth graders learn guitar. The school has a rock band and jazz group, which are part of an afterschool program. Classes in Mandarin are offered. A $1.8 million magnet grant for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education provides hands-on science and math at least three hours per week. Although the grant formally ended in 2016, the school continues to offer the STEM classes and welcomes children from outside the school attendance zone.
Located in Vinegar Hill, a gentrifying neighborhood between the Brooklyn Navy Yard and DUMBO, PS 307 has long served children who live in the Farragut public housing development across the street. Students with special needs from throughout the district come for the school's excellent ASD Horizon program for students on the autism spectrum.
In 2016, to ease overcrowding at nearby PS 8, The Department of Education expanded the zone for PS 307 to include DUMBO. The change was controversial: Some PS 307 parents worried that a community institution that has long nurtured black and Latino families would be "taken over" by outsiders from the gentrifying neighborhood of DUMBO, while some DUMBO families worried that the school's low test scores mean their children might not be challenged.
Those fears did not seem to materialize, at least in the first year after the rezoning. Carroll, whose mother is from France and whose father is from Senegal, says my perspective is not black and white and has reassured parents of all races that they are welcome. Kindergarten enrollments increased significantly, from just 18 children in 2015-16 to 56 in 2016-17.
Despite the school's many strengths, daunting challenges remain. While most children were engaged in their classes on our visit, a few were squirming or not paying attention. Test scores are below the citywide average. There are high rates of chronic absenteeism. Some teachers complain of discipline problems, according to 2015-16 school survey. However, on our visit in fall 2016, the school appeared calm and orderly.
With effective leadership and strong teaching, PS 307 is a school to watch.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes on every grade, several self-contained classes for special education students, and several special small classes for students on the autism spectrum in the ASD Horizon program. Teachers provide personal attention and a gentle atmosphere. One general education student even studies in the ASD classroom because he works better in a smaller, quieter group. The 1st-grade classroom with cozy corners, was dimly lit with music softly playing and all students focused.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school but students from outside of the zone are also admitted. The school welcomes prospective parents who wish to visit or tour. (Elizabeth Daniels, November 2015, Clara Hemphill, November 2016)