P.S. 147 Isaac Remsen
Brooklyn NY 11206
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
Dynamic leadership with lots of energy for bringing in extras
Quite a few children are chronically absent
January 2015 update:PS 147 Isaac Remsen received $25,000 in federal grants to create the first Japanese dual language program in New York City beginning in September 2015.
March 2014 review: PS 147 in District 14 has a lot of great things going for it, including dynamic leadership and strong community partnerships. The school has the largest, most spacious and most beautiful pre-k classrooms that we have seen in this district so far. These are double-sized classrooms with a sand table, water table, block and dramatic play areas, and even a quiet area where kids can listen to music on headphones.
Test scores in the upper grades and attendance still have a way to go but parents and teachers are thrilled to be a part of this safe and growing community where kids take many field trips a year, eat healthy food and learn to play guitar.
Sustainability and healthy living are taken seriously here. In keeping with the school's theme of environmental engineering, there is a hydroponics lab, thanks to a grant from Lowe's Home Improvement store. The school is working on creating raised outdoor gardens in collaboration with ECOstation, a nonprofit focused on food justice and urban agriculture. It has a partnership with CookShop Classroom, in which a FreshDirect van comes in with fresh fruits and vegetables, and children learn to make simple recipes. This also includes workshops for parents. Representatives from the Bushwick Farmers Market visit the school in June and hold talks and workshops with students. They also give coupons to families to promote "real foods" in East Williamsburg.
Sandra Noyola became principal 2011. She began her career with the Department of Education more than 20 years ago and worked her way up from an assistant teacher to principal. Since coming to PS 147, she has boosted enrollment by 100 students, and her school was one of two in the district that successfully fought off a second co-location. (The school currently shares a building only with Young Women's Leadership, an all-girls middle school with plans to expand to a high school.) A former literacy coach, Noyola does not believe in purchasing test-prep curriculum for her students. Instead, PS 147 is one of two project schools in this district working with the well-respected trainers at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Teachers work to create Common Core-aligned units of study that are anchored in history, but they also tie in the arts and literature with guidance from Visual Thinking Strategies(VTS). (VTS instructors help teachers ask open-ended questions to get kids talking to each other more.) On the day of our visit, we were pleased to see students reading self-selected books and writing in notebooks, not filling out workbooks and worksheets. Students flowed effortlessly from whole group instruction in reading strategies to individualized self-selected reading where they tried out the techniques on their own.
To raise test scores, teachers work after school with kids who need more help. After test results showed weaknesses in reading comprehension and writing organization, teachers have begun emphasizing those areas, Noyola said.Efforts to raise attendance include monthly celebrations, extra field trips and phone calls home.
The school has partnerships with Streb (workshops investigating movement and choreography), City Lore World Rhythms (bringing folk and fine artists into schools), Music and the Brain(learning to read music and piano lessons), Little Kids Rock Guitar, Nurture Art and many other organizations. Students take about 20 field trips a year. While it's true that the PTA doesn't quite have the fund-raising muscle of other more well-known schools in the district, PS 147 has done very well, parents say, because of Principal Noyola's resourcefulness. She has a staff member who coordinates with community organizations and who also happens to be a very talented grant writer.
All students have recess, and they receive music and gym classes throughout the week. The school has a beautiful library filled with light-blond wood furniture and books of all genres. Each time that we've visited, the librarian, a former literacy coach, was leading discussion circles with a group of students working on author studies or using Mac laptops to do research. (In other area schools, we've seen gorgeous libraries sit unused.)
The school received money from Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna to build a playground for the upper grades in a lot down the street. The lower grades play in a courtyard decorated with murals during recess. Noyola converted a large space on the first floor into a "gymnasium" and hired a full time physical education teacher who uses the space creatively.
Noyola has joined with a group of mothers living in District 14 who are working on creating the first ever Japanese dual-language program in New York City for the fall of 2015. This program may attract the growing Japanese population living in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area and non-native families inside and outside of the district.
Special education: The school offers SETSS and self-contained classes.
Admissions: Neighborhood school.(Lanny Cheuck, March 2014)