Brooklyn NY 11215
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
Welcoming arts-focused school; active parents & weekly Farmers Market
Awkward building layout with small gym and a lunchroom in the lobby
An arts-focused school with a strong sense of community, PS 295 has an involved staff and very active parents with many working artists in the mix. There is a welcoming environment for all children, including those with special needs and those learning to speak English.
PS 295 shares a 100-year-old building in South Park Slope with New Voices School of Academic and Creative Arts middle school. There are small dance and drama studios and a stage, complete with sound and lighting systems. The interior is nicely painted and there is a welcoming shared library. The building lacks a full-size gym, and the noisy cafeteria, split in two different sections, is inconveniently located in the lobby.
Students go to the nearby Armory for physical education, or do yoga classes in the dance studio. CBE Kids runs an after-school program, while parents run a fee-based program offering classes in yoga, circus arts, science, and tennis. Additional after-school programs are provided through a grant from Councilman Carlos Menchaca.
Linda Mazza, a longtime teacher and principal since 2013, is well known and liked by the community. She has monthly "Bagel Bits" morning meetings with parents, and parents are invited to visit classrooms afterwards.
Math lessons occur first thing in the morning and students get plenty of hands-on work. The school uses a combination of the Investigations curriculum, used in District 2, and more standard workbooks from the Go Math curriculum, offered by the city. There is an emphasis on logic and applying math lessons to real life, the principal said. In a 5th-grade class, the teacher asked children to figure out what size turkey she should buy based on the number of guests she expected at the dinner and how much they were likely to eat. Students also had to come up with a plan for solving the problem and explaining their decision, writing up their thought process. "There's not a pre-determined answer," said the principal. "It's about: 'What is your reasoning and is it logical?'"
Teachers follow the Readers and Writers Workshop model in which students choose books at their level and share information with a partner. Parents are invited to some publishing parties to celebrate books written by the children. About half of the reading time is devoted to reading nonfiction books, to better align with Common Core standards. The school spends little time on dedicated test prep for state exams. "Good instruction is test prep," said the principal.
In 5th grade, students have different teachers for different subject areas in order to prepare them for middle school.
The arts flourish here. Students write and perform their own plays; some are actors, others directors or stagehands. All grades get music instruction: singing, learning to play the recorder or drumming. A band and chorus meet after school. Parent grant-writing helps fund many arts initiatives, and parent artist and writers frequently volunteer. An annual silent art auction features work by parents and their friends.
Fieldtrips tie into the curriculum. Second-graders studying New York take a trip to Rockefeller Center and the "Top of the Rock"; 3rd-graders studying China visit Chinatown. Hands-on projects abound both in and out of the art room. Second-graders studying the Lenape Indian tribe created typical shelters; 1st-graders made and shared a delicious sweet potato dish the week before Thanksgiving.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS 295 was one of the first schools to offer an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) class on every grade and takes particular pride in its special education program which serves nearly a quarter of the population. There is adaptive physical education for kids who need it.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. In past years, there have been some seats available for kids from outside of the zone. (Pamela Wheaton, November 2013; updated via email and with school data, August 2016)