PS 527 - East Side School for Social Action
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Kids read classics like "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and "The Wizard of Oz"
No pre-k, seven-story building has no elevator
Opened in 2012 to ease overcrowding at other Upper East Side schools, PS 527 has quickly developed its own personality and culture. There is a lot of emphasis on being nice and on being a good citizen. The school is orderly but not rigid. Children move smoothly from one activity to another without a lot of wasted time.
PS 527 is a shade more traditional than some of the other schools in the neighborhood. It uses the Core Knowledge curriculum, based on the work of E.D. Hirsch, which includes classics like The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Wizard of Oz. Every child takes part in a guided reading group every day, and there is explicit phonics instruction.
At the same, teachers adapt Core Knowledge to include more child-friendly stuff and activities such as making paper-bag puppets about nursery rhymes, said Principal Dan McCormick. He added that Core Knowledge texts are too challenging and lessons are too teacher-centered, with too much passive learning and not enough activity. On our visit, we heard children talk about the difference between fiction and nonfiction--how Balto was a real, live dog, but Alice in Wonderland was a character in book.
Housed in a former parochial school with seven floors and no elevator, PS 527 has lavishly equipped rooms, including many that were empty at the time of our visit. Unfortunately, it does not offer pre-kindergarten, because city officials decided small children could not easily climb the stairs.
The theme of the school is social action and children are encouraged to take part in community service, such as making sandwiches for a local food pantry, or raising money for a charity such as the ASPCA or a campaign to save the rain forest.
McCormick (Principal Dan to the kids), formerly assistant principal at the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars in East Harlem, knows every child by name.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school takes pains to ensure that children with special needs are distributed across different classes and not clustered in one. ICT classes (with two teachers) tend to have fewer special needs children than the 40 percent that is typical. The school has a full-time speech therapist and an occupational therapist.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school. (Clara Hemphill, October 2015)Read more