P.S. 84 Lillian Weber
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Dual language programs in French and Spanish, lots of arts
Test scores just average, some clutter in classrooms
On a leafy street half a block from Central Park, PS 84 offers dual language programs in French and Spanish as well as English-only classes. The French program is growing in popularity: A second French dual language class has been added in the lower grades; as these children grow, these classes will likely make up half the schools enrollment. Each grade also has one Spanish dual language class and one English-only ICT class with two teachers and mix of general education and special needs children.
The school has a mix of children of different races, income levels and home languages, with no one group dominating. There are children from nearby housing projects as well as pricey brownstones. Children of nannies and bus drivers learn alongside the offspring of architects and lawyers. Add to the mix West Indian, African, French and Hispanic backgroundsand the school is a microcosm of the city. Half the children in the dual language programs are native speakers of English; half speak French or Spanish at home.
The atmosphere is relaxed. Children are free to talk and to move around classes. A rooftop garden provides an inviting outdoor-classroom where children plant and harvest vegetables and have hands-on science lessons. The playground and lunchroom are calmer than at many schools (and the food, with lots of fresh vegetables, is better than the typical lunchroom fare.) Some classrooms are a bit cluttered, and the level of student engagement varies, but the quality of childrens written work is good overall. Children and staff both seem happy to be here.
The school has a wide variety of community partnerships. Volunteers from the Jewish Community Center work as reading buddies. Enrichment programs are offered by Julliard, the 92nd Street Y, the New-York Historical Society and Magic Box productions (which teaches children to use cameras). An active PTA raises several hundred thousand dollars a year to pay for teacher assistants in most classrooms and enrichment activities. The school has a well-stocked library, with two part-time librarians, paid for by parents.
Longtime principal Robin Sundick, who established the French dual language programs and made the school more welcoming to parents, retired in 2015 and was replaced by Evelyn J. Lolis, formerly an elementary school principal on Long Island. Lolis, a native speaker of French (her mother is French and her father is Greek), has a PhD from Hofstra University and had worked the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College. Anita Hauschild, the parent coordinator, and Assistant Principal Mary Acosta, both speak Spanish, so parents can always find someone at the school who speaks their language.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The schools English-only program is made up of ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes, which mix general and special needs children, with two teachers. There are also self-contained classes for children who need a smaller setting. Children with difficulties reading may get free after-school tutoring at the Stephen Gaynor School, a private school for special needs children.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Children in the school attendance zone are guaranteed admission but those living anywhere in Districts 3 may apply. Native speakers of French and Spanish from outside District 3 sometimes are admitted off the waitlist in late summer. (Clara Hemphill, October 2015)Read more