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Middle School High School

P.S. 185 The Locke School of Arts and Engineering

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
20 West 112 Street
Manhattan NY 10026
Phone: 212-534-7490
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Our Insights

What’s Special

LEGO design curriculum; emphasis on play and creative activities.

The Downside

Merging two school cultures will take time.

Note: PS 185 and PS 208 merged in 2018. The school now serves grades PK-5 

2016 REVIEW: At PS 185 very young children learn about the grown-up subjects of engineering and design. Also known as the Early Childhood Discovery and Design Magnet School, PS 185 serves students in pre-K through 2nd grade. The tone is gentle, supportive and balanced. There's plenty of instruction in reading and math, even in pre-K, but teachers also infuse lots of play and creative activities into daily lessons.

Children study dance and piano, practice yoga, take walks in Central Park and delve into engineering basics in the Lego Lab. Once a week they spend time on longer projects based on science and social studies units, such as constructing and labeling the parts of trees out of recycled materials, or creating a comic strip on how matter changes state.

Unlike many schools, PS 185 has moved toward a more playful and project-based model since the citywide adoption of Common Core learning goals: it has added the weekly projects and brought back "centers" such as blocks and dramatic play in kindergarten. Next: big blocks and tricycles in the playground.

Principal Jane Murphy taught at progressive Central Park East I back when it served mostly low-income families, as PS 185 does now. She believes children from all walks of life are best served by "stimulating and challenging curriculum." The school's nice mix of structure and creative freedom has begun to attract a few professional parents new to Harlem. Murphy is proud that the school is able to draw middle class parents even without a gifted and talented program, which she finds exclusive and sometimes divisive. "Children need to interact with lots of different kids," she said.

PS 185 teachers try to take into account the needs of children who surge ahead as well as those who fall behind. In the Lego Lab, a child spoke excitedly of using "interlocking" and "overlapping" pieces to build a sturdy wall. During group phonics lessons, a child may work independently on more advanced skills. Children gather in small daily math groups based on what they need help with most. A reading teacher works daily with eight groups of struggling readers in the library.

Teachers emphasize the child-friendly rules"be safe, be kind, be helpful, be ready"by awarding points in the shape of cut out bumblebees. Yet choice, chatter and movement are encouraged, giving kids opportunities to learn to regulate their own behavior too.

Parents raved about the "small and personal" community and discovery-filled approach. "I want them to have this fervor and zeal for learning," said a mother who felt some schools were "too focused on tests at an early age." The downside: some parents wondered where to send their children for 3rd grade. "It's one of the biggest concerns of families here," a parent said.

Most graduates attend PS 208, which serves grades 3 to 5. This is one solution, though a mother with children in both schools said she missed the camaraderie and playful approach of the early childhood school.

PS 185 is housed in a two-building complex that it shares with PS 208, Harlem Link Charter School and PS 226, a small program run by District 75, the citywide district for students with severe disabilities.

SPECIAL EDUCATION/ESL: There are several team-taught classes that place some children with disabilities in general ed classrooms with two teachers. An ESL teacher provides support to English language learners both in their regular class and also outside the classroom. There is one "self-contained" class for children with significant disabilities.

ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. The school has admitted students from outside the zone and the district in recent years. (Lydie Raschka, November 2016)

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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 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
83% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 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 2017-18 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
78% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2018 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
51% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
49% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From this school's most recent Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems

From this school's most recent Early Childhood Environmental Rating System (ECERS-R)

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 2018-19 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2017-18 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average

From 2018 School Directories

Pre-K seats

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
28% 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?
28% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
17% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Harlem (District 3)
Trains: B Line, C Line to Cathedral Parkway-110th St; 6 Line to 110th St; 2 Line, 3 Line to Central Park North-110th St
Buses: M1, M10, M101, M102, M106, M116, M2, M3, M7, M98


Jane Murphy
Parent Coordinator
Monica Vargas

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares a building with Harlem Link Charter School and PS 208.
Metal detectors?

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

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