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Earth School

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
600 East 6th Street
Manhattan NY 10009
Phone: 212-477-1735

Our Insights

What’s Special

Rooftop garden, great arts and science, committed parents

The Downside

Small school means small budget and little administrative support

At the Earth School, children grow vegetables for the cafeteria on a rooftop garden and farm, tend to a fig tree in the yard, and learn to compost scraps and recycle. Through hands-on arts and science projects, they learn to be good citizens and stewards of the planet.

Parents bring their children to the classroom each morning and are welcome throughout the day. On our visit, the Parents Association room was buzzing: three dads and several moms put together folders for a prospective parent tour, planned the school auction and carried in risers for a graduation ceremony. Parents may attend weekly Town Hall meetings and chat with one another at coffee Fridays.

Abbe Futterman, a science teacher who has been at the school since its founding in 1992, became principal in 2014. On our visit, we were impressed by the quality of teaching and the high level of engagement of the students. The school devised its own discipline code, taking into account social-emotional needs, and was given a Respect for All award from the city in 2016 for offering a safe and supportive environment.

Most classes mix children of different ages: Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten are grouped together, as are 1st-2nd and 4th-5th grades. Only 3rd grade is a stand-alone year. Teachers say they get to know children well because they have them for two years. And students feel comfortable in the room, making for a smooth transition. The grouping also means older children get the chance to be elders and may help younger ones, the principal said. Many of the classrooms have at least two teachers. Older children are separated by grade for math.

Social studies projects may last an entire year, such as the 4th-5th grade study of immigration. Children visited Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum and Museo del Barrio to learn about immigration movements in the past as well as todays migrants from war-torn countries such as Syria. Children were asked to zero in on individual immigrant stories, and to tell a persons story with a drawing, poem or map.

Many art projects incorporate science, social studies and even math. A detailed mural and timeline about the lead in the water in Flint, Michigan took up much of a corridor. In another project, 1st- and 2nd-graders took field trips around the city, interviewed community workers and made models of landmarks from cardboard and papier mch.

Classrooms are large, full of light and plants. Theres a full-time cooking teacher and a room dedicated to cookinga great hands-on way to learn math. The smell of gingerbread baking filled the corridors on our visit.

The large building is shared amicably with PS 64 and Tompkins Square Middle School. Earth School occupies the first floor and ground floor. All have access to the rooftop garden.

The huge gymnasium is shared with the other two schools in the building; parents pay for the coaches because there isnt a budget for a physical education teacher. The coaches focus on gender inclusion and body image as well as sports. Pre-k students go regularly to nearby Tomkins Square Park for recess and play.

The Earth School has long had a mix of children of different income levels and races, and the school community is determined to maintain that even as the neighborhood gentrifies, Futterman said. A school down the block shouldnt be all black and brown kids while were a pretty good mix, she said. Were trying to make sure that there is access for all. In 2015, the city allowed the Earth School to set aside 45 percent of its seats to students learning to speak English and those who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The Earth School staff and parents have been in the forefront of the movement to opt out of state tests for 3rd- to 5th-graders. In 2015, more than half of the students did not take the state exams. Most people opt out because they are against what standardized tests do for education as a whole, said Futterman. There is minimal prep for the exams. We feel kids are well-prepared because we teach the material that is being tested, she said.

The schools small size is an asset, because everyone knows everyone, but also a drawback, because fewer pupils means a smaller budget. The principal is the only administrator and there are no staff developers or coaches. Both classroom teachers and the principal said they would welcome more support.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is at least one ICT classroom on most grades with two teachers. Small group support is offered to all students.

ADMISSIONS: Lottery, District 1. Preference to siblings. There is sometimes space for out-of-district students in the upper grades, although not in pre-k or kindergarten. Forty percent of kindergarten seats are set aside for children with limited English proficiency or those who qualify for free or reduced lunch. (Pamela Wheaton, March 2016)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From the 2022-2023 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
84% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
85% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
53% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
50% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From the NYC Program Assessment (CLASS and ECERS-R) Database through 2019-2020

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems
Activities: Children explore art, music, sand/water, dramatic play and more
Language: Teachers talk and listen to kids in a supportive way
Interaction: Teachers ask kids good questions and invite back-and-forth conversation

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

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

From the 2022-23 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
91% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
36% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

How does this school serve special populations?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
30% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
23% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
21% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
12% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


East Village (District 1)
Trains: L Line to 1st Ave; J Line, M Line, Z Line to Delancey St-Essex St; F Line to 2nd Ave
Buses: M14A, M14D, M15, M15-SBS, M21, M8, M9


Claudia De Luna Castro
Parent Coordinator
Jocelyn Walsh

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares the building with PS 64 and Tompkins Square Middle School
Metal detectors?

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