P.S. 2 Meyer London
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Stellar pre-kindergarten program for little scientists
Four floor walk-up with no elevators
PS 2 seems to be a place where the American Dream begins. The school serves many children whose families come from China and speak no English. By second grade, however, most children speak fluent English. Part of the secret of the school's success: the hands-on science classes in which children learn to talk about things such as snails and worms.
The pre-kindergarten program is one of the best in the district. An experienced pre-K teacher built a rainforest in her classroom nearly a decade ago. Today, the rainforest with a canopy of paper foliage and an interactive mural still stands, and some real critters in tanks and a number of plants have been added. Students grow vines from pumpkin seeds to add to the classroom foliage, write about their experiences watching butterflies hatch in their classroom (as best as 4-year-olds can), and examine snail eggs under microscopes.
There are two science rooms but the subject is present in all classrooms. On the day of our visit, 5th graders were conducting science experiments to determine the carbohydrate content of pieces of cereal and 4th graders were learning about how germs spread. The 4th grade science class was a bilingual class and the science teacher placed special emphasis on the spelling of words such as "disperse."
The school uses TERC math curriculum which requires students to explain how they answer math problems, which in turn builds students' language skills. Classroom tasks vary depending on the English speaking skills of students. For example, students in bilingual classes draw more pictures to show how they answer a math problem, as opposed to writing out their answers.
In addition to core academics, PS 2 students get music, art and computer classes. Every Wednesday, a chess master comes to the school to coach students. Students swim at the nearby Chinatown YMCA. All classes take field trips to the neighborhood library to check out books. PS 2's 5th graders work with the National Dance Institute (NDI) to learn special dance routines. The program, "brings out what children didn't know they could do," said Principal Bessie Ng, as we watched a group of 5th graders in a bilingual Chinese class dancing on stage in the school's auditorium.
Ng became principal in 2012 after the school's long-time principal moved out of state. She was the school's assistant principal for seven years prior to becoming principal. At the time of our visit, she had not yet hired a new assistant principal and wore many hats. She rushed around doing everything from receiving UPS boxes to comforting a crying child in the hallway to sitting in on a session for 1st grade teachers with a math coach.
The number of undocumented immigrant parents has decreased in recent years, said Ng, and that has led to an increase in parent involvement. Parents have raised money to install air conditioners in all the classrooms and they decorated the building hallways.
English Language Learners: PS 2 offers bilingual Chinese classes in all grades for students who are brand new English speakers. There are also self-contained ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, where instruction is strictly in English, for students on the intermediate level. The most advanced students who still require extra support get it from ESL teachers who work with small groups outside the regular class instruction. We saw some books written in both Chinese and English in the libraries.
Special education: For students with special needs, PS 2 offers both self-contained classes and co-teaching classes, which combine general education and special education students who are taught by two teachers.
Admissions: Zoned school (Catherine Man, May 2007, updated by Anna Schneider, May 2013)Read more