Neighborhood School

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Creative curriculum and imaginative teaching

The Downside

Absenteeism is higher than city average

Our Review

Once a month, children, parents and teachers start the day at The Neighborhood School with a sing-along. Several fathers strum guitars while the children sing songs like "This Little Light of Mine" or "Down by the Riverside." The event is a reminder of the school's progressive approach to learning and its passionately committed, multiracial parent body. Parents are welcome in the classroom and many volunteer in the library.

The Neighborhood School is serious about play. Children make towering structures of wooden blocks not only in pre-kindergarten, but all the way up through 2nd grade. They paint life-size self-portraits on brown paper, and decorate the classroom with them. Recess lasts for a full 50 minutes (not counting lunch) in pre-k though 2nd grade.

The school, which shares a building with PS 63, has embraced the "opt-out movement," as the parent-led rebellion against standardized testing is known. About 80 percent of children sit out the state tests in reading and math. Children receive "evaluations" or narratives written by their teachers rather than report cards with grades.

Classes mix children of different ages: pre-k and kindergarten in one, 1st and 2nd grades in another and 4th and 5th grades in another. (Two kindergartens and 3rd grade are the only stand-alone classes.) Teachers get to know children well because they have the same pupils for two years. Each year, half the children in the class are old hands; because fewer children need to learn new routines, less time is wasted in settling in.

Dyanthe Spielberg, who became principal in 2013, has worked with teachers to forge a thoughtful, interdisciplinary curriculum that's influenced by Bank Street College of Education, where she received her master's degree.

The curriculum changes each year, depending on current events and on children's interests. Every year, 3rd-graders study immigration to New York City, but when refugees from the war in Syria flooded Europe, children learned about that crisis as well. In one homework assignment, they were asked to imagine they had to leave home taking only the belongings that would fit in a brown paper grocery bag.

Fourth- and 5th-graders study the Civil Rights movement, as they do in many schools. But at the Neighborhood School, they also learned about the Black Lives Matter protests and compared them to the protests of the 1960s.Children learn to write from different points of view: They write essays imagining they are the Civil Rights hero Rosa Parks, or the man who drove the bus when she refused to give up her seat, or a White person, or a child, on the bus.|

Science is not taught only as a once a week "special" but integrated into regular classroom lessons. In a unit on the human body, for example, children made a skeleton out of cardboard (using torn egg cartons as a spine). One child asked, "Is there blood in a bone?" and the teacher brought in a beef bone so children could see the marrow first hand. Young children learn about simple machines on a trip to a playground with a merry-go-round and an old-fashioned teeter-totter. Older children learn how penguins protect themselves from the cold.

Reading is taught with fun-to-read picture books, novels and science discovery books. There is plenty of emphasis on phonics and spelling as well.

Children are separated by their grade for math lessonsa recognition that in math, more than other subjects, it's difficult for teachers to reach children of different ages and abilities in one class. Here, too, children learn through projects. For example, 5th-graders measure the exterior of the school building in meters several times, and learn that they come up with a slightly different measurement each time. Through this lesson, they learn in concrete terms the difference between average, mean and median.

Middle school choices include Tompkins Square Middle School, East Side Community, and University Neighborhood Middle School.

A possible downside: The school has a higher than average rate of absenteeism. Spielberg said some new immigrants take their children out of school for extended vacations to their home countries.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Children with special needs may be assigned to ICT team-teaching classes with two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education.

ADMISSIONS: District 1 choice. Priority for pre-kindergarten goes to siblings. The school has long prided itself on serving children from different racial and ethnic groups as well as different income levels. As part of a pilot project to maintain socio-economic diversity, priority for up to 45 percent of kindergarten seats goes to children who qualify for free or reduced lunch or who have limited proficiency in English. (Clara Hemphill, February 2016)

About the students

Pre-K seats
Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school shares a building with STAR Academy PS 63
Metal detectors?
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
23% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
88% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
7.0 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
90% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
77% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
89% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
65% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
86% Citywide Average
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
98% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
92% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
97% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
89% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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121 East 3 Street
Manhattan NY 10009
East Village (District 1)
Trains: L to 1st Ave; J, M, Z to Delancey St-Essex St; F to 2 Ave; 6, B, D to Bleecker St/Broadway-Lafayette St
Buses: B39, M101, M102, M103, M14A, M14D, M15, M15-SBS, M2, M21, M3, M8, M9


Dyanthe Spielberg
Parent Coordinator
Noemi Mora

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