P.S. 189 The Bilingual Center

Grades K-8
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

A community institution offers classes in Latin, Spanish and Creole

The Downside

No pre-kindergarten

Our Review

PS 189 has a spotless building, a cohesive staff, and an imaginative curriculum that includes Latin in the 5th and 6th grades. Staff seem to love the principal and many happily send their own children to the school. One teacher’s daughter is now teaching at PS 189 herself; a security guard sent both her children and grandchildren here.

PS 189 has inspired the loyalty of generations of families in Crown Heights while welcoming newcomers from the Caribbean, Central America, and, most recently, Yemen. Many of today’s pupils’ parents and even grandparents graduated from PS 189. Successful graduates come back on “career day” to share advice.

Also called The Bilingual Center, PS 189 offers dual language instruction in Haitian Creole and Spanish. These classes, which draw children from across the district, are designed to ensure that children can speak, read and write in both English and the other language. Many of the children speak Creole or Spanish at home; others speak English and want to learn the language of their ancestors. In the dual language classes we visited, instruction was mainly in English, with students serving as translators for children who didn’t understand. Although some instruction is offered in Creole and Spanish, the balance is not 50-50 between English and the other language.

The school also offers English-only classes, including a “gifted” class on each grade. All children study a second language, either French of Spanish; in addition, Latin is required in the 5th and 6th grade.

The stately 1922 building has an impressive auditorium, rich classroom libraries, and a large playground. Some classes are held in the “mini-school” housed on the playground. On rainy days, children play games in the cafeteria at lunchtime—they don’t watch videos in the auditorium as they do at some schools.

The tone is simultaneously formal and warm. Administrators are sticklers for attendance and punctuality. Homework is assigned every night. Younger children go to the bathroom as a group. Everyone wears blue and white uniforms. Middle school children wear blazers and neckties. At the same time, teachers are affectionate and we heard no raised voices on our tour. Classes are lively and both children and adults seem happy to be here. One downside: no pre-kindergarten is offered.

The instruction tends toward the traditional—with the teacher at the front speaking to the whole class—but there’s also plenty of time for class discussion and fun projects. In one kindergarten class, children made a timeline of important dates in history such as Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492, the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620, and the American Revolution in 1776; they also have unstructured time to play with blocks. The school has unusually rich offerings in the arts, with full-time teachers for drama, dance, instrumental music and voice.

Sixth-graders have the same teacher for all their classes; in 7th grade, they have different teachers for each subject. Accelerated courses are offered for high school credit in English, French, Spanish, Algebra I, Earth Science and Living Environment. In one lively history class, children discussed flappers and the changing role of women in the 1920s. In a math class, children learned about the use of negative numbers in ancient China and India.

Top graduates are admitted to the specialized high schools, Midwood, Medgar Evers, and Bedford Academy. Other choices include Clara Barton, It Takes a Village Academy, and Brooklyn High School of the Arts.

To compete with charter schools that offer a longer school day, PS 189 has expanded its after-school. Community organizations, including the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Haitian Americans United for Progress, offer programs after school and during school holidays.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers team-teaching plus two self-contained special education classes. 

ADMISSIONSNeighborhood school. Dual language programs are open district-wide. For middle school there are some seats for children from outside the zone. Call the school for information about admission to the gifted program, which is administered by the school rather than the district. The school sometimes has room for children from District 23, whose border is just one block away. (Clara Hemphill, April 2017)

About the students

Enrollment
1059
Asian
3.3%
Black
71.2%
Hispanic
23.6%
White
0.9%
Other
1.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
91%
Students with disabilities
14%
English language learners
19%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
104%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
94%
94% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
19%
19% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
94%
75% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
27%
25% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
82%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
93%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
35%
46% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
13.9
6.4 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
96%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
100%
86% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
94%
79% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
87%
78% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
97%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
98%
85% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
56%
59% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
74%
79% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
81%
84% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
58%
39% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
46%
40% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 4 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Theater, and an Auditorium
This school has 5 licensed arts teachers in Dance, Theater, and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
67%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
59%
55% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
70%
70% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
English, French, Spanish, Algebra I, Earth Science, Living Environment
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
54%
28% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
88%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Midwood HS, Performing Arts and Technology HS, and Transit Tech Career and Technical Education HS
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

This school offers Transitional Bilingual Education in Haitian Creole and Spanish.
This school offers Dual Language classes in Haitian Creole and Spanish.
How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
12%
7% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
34%
18% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
2.4
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.18
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
2.43
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.2
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.54
2.3 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.35
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
57%
69% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
63%
84% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
70%
89% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
68%
87% Citywide Average
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