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P.S. 1 Alfred E. Smith

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
8 Henry Street
Manhattan NY 10038
Phone: 212-267-4133

Our Insights

What’s Special

Strong sense of community and Chinese dual language program

The Downside

Old building

Built in 1897, PS 1 has long provided a solid education to its immigrant neighborhood, as exemplified by the grandmother who served on the PTA for 23 years, while two generations of her family attended the school. Perhaps for that reason, the community is eager to give back to the school. Volunteers painted cheerful murals to brighten the walls of the century-old, stone-gray building, and regularly read to children during the school day and tutor after hours. Parents and grandparents also volunteer, even those who don't speak English.

"We have a lot of people who want to give to PS 1," says Amy Hom, who grew up down the block. Hom became principal in 2003 after working at the school as a teacher and assistant principal.

Hom is always on the hunt for supplemental activities or volunteers to engage her students. Movie location scouts frequently ask to use the building for filming, and Hom says she insists that children be allowed to observe the behind-the-scenes work. In 2013, Spiderman climbed up the school walls for a scene in The Amazing Spiderman 2. A dental specialist from New York University provides treatment for children and Kress Vision supplies free eye exams and glasses. Hom hopes that such experiences will expose her students, which include new immigrants from China, children living in temporary shelters and children living with surrogate families to worlds outside their own. "If they don't get it in school, where are they going to get it," she asks.

Hom also expects students to give back to the community. A student panel raises money for the Penny Harvest and chooses where to donate the collected funds. In 2013, students decided to give to an organization that funds operations for children with cleft palates. Fourth-graders participated in Soaringwords, a charity connecting them to children with cancer to send cards, gifts and good wishes.

Parents and neighborhood volunteers can often be found in PS 1's building and are always welcome. In the "parent room," they attend workshops and events, even dance classes, or just sit around to eat and chat. PTA meetings are translated into four different languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and English.

PS 1 still struggles to meet every need. A majority of the teachers responding to the 2012 school survey expressed a lack of trust in the principal, with 56 percent saying she is not an effective manager. Three-quarters of PS 1s teachers have been teaching for more than a decade but two-thirds of the schools teachers say they would appreciate more feedback about their teaching. And nearly half of the teachers said the school lacked sufficient supplies. But, Hom said, shes doing everything she can to provide for her students. Any extra money we have goes to supplies, she says. In recent years, donations have allowed the school to install air-conditioning in all the classrooms.

PS 1 uses the Columbia University Teachers College workshop method to teach reading and writing--emphasizing drafting and revision of writing in a number of genres. For math, it relies on the city's Everyday Math program, which encourages children to use "manipulatives"--math toys--to help them understand mathematical concepts.

Classes have 28-32 children. Groups of children go through an extended school-day rotation throughout the school year. In that extra 50-minutes of class time, students receive services based on their needs; for example, the high-achieving students work with English language learners on projects like playwriting, something that Hom says challenges both populations.

Many PS 1 graduates go to nearby MS 131 for middle school, but others go further afield to to Lab, MS 104, and Salk School of Science. We try to encourage them to leave the neighborhood, otherwise they might grow up without seeing the rest of the city, says Hom.

English as a Second Language: PS 1 offers a dual language Mandarin program beginning in fall 2013 with two pre-kindergarten classes. There are a variety of services for English language learners, including bilingual Chinese classes. Most of our teachers are ESL-licensed, says Hom.

Special education: PS 1 offers "self-contained" classes for children with special needs as well as having integrated co-teaching classrooms, with one general education teacher and one teacher certified in special education. Hom said the school has seen an increase in the number of autistic children.

(Catherine Man, May 2006; updated via phone interview by Anna Schneider, July 2013)

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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 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?
0% 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?
84% 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
3-K seats

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

Average daily attendance
90% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
40% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

This school offers Dual Language classes in Chinese.

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


Chinatown (District 2)
Trains: N Line, Q Line, R Line, W Line to Canal St; F Line to East Broadway; B Line, D Line to Grand St; 4 Line, 5 Line, 6 Line, J Line, Z Line to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall
Buses: M103, M15, M15-SBS, M22, M5, M9


Amy Hom
Parent Coordinator
Cindy Yeung Lau

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?

Zone for the 2019-2020 school year. Call school to confirm.

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