Hudson River Middle School (I.S. 289)
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Lovely building and curriculum based on projects, not tests
Emphasis on project-based work may not be for everyone
At IS 289 Hudson River Middle School students work together on ambitious, creative projects that often incorporate a social justice theme. They call teachers by their first names and learn to design their own homework assignments. Students learn to work independently, manage time effectively and share what they have learned with confidence, according to the city’s evaluation of the school called the Quality Review.
IS 289, which shares a building with PS 89, was built by the Battery Park City Authority in 1998. The elementary school serves the neighborhood children, but the middle school is open to students from all of District 2. One of the most attractive physical plants in the city, the spacious hallways have nooks and steps. Students can spread out into the Battery Park ballfields for recess, afterschool and interscholastic sporting events, according to the school’s website.
Textbooks are used sparingly, and classrooms have libraries “rich with trade books, both fiction and non-fiction, maps, illustrations,” the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP) said. “Students also conduct research through well-informed internet searches and trips to museums and other sites of interest in the city.”
Sixth graders get extra help in learning how to collaborate, plan and prepare. Every child has a color-coded planner and an “academic coach” who meets with them twice a month.
Students are encouraged to complete complex interdisciplinary projects—and their grades are based on these, rather than traditional tests, according to the CEP. For example, 8th graders carried out a year-long research project on “how to take action and support health of our planet,” according to the school’s What’s Happening blog. Students may study the ecology of the Hudson River or learn about discrimination faced by different races and ethnic groups who moved to New York City over the years in social studies.
The Quality Review said the projects reflect the school’s high expectations and academic rigor. But a few parents and students posting comments on the InsideSchools website grumble that projects can overburden some while allowing others to skate by without contributing or learning as much.
Principal Zeynep Ozkan, who holds a degree in biology from Boston College and a master's degree in education from Harvard University, gets high marks on school surveys from teachers, who praise the school’s supportive and collaborative environment. Hudson, the school’s comfort dog, helps bring smiles to students and staff throughout the day, according to the school’s website.
Special education: The school offers team-teaching, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and counseling.
Admissions: The administration is committed to having a range of academic abilities, a mix of children from different ethnic groups and income levels and a geographic distribution of children within District 2. The school does not consider test scores in admission, but does look at a child’s attendance and 4th grade report card. (Nicole Mader, web reports, March 2019)Read more