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Music and dance in almost every grade
No foreign language; outdoor area could use sprucing up
Opened in 2010 to ease overcrowding on the Upper West Side, PS 452 has quickly become one of the best schools in the district. Principal David Scott Parker, former assistant principal at nearby PS 199, has built a school with a thoughtful approach to writing, math, social studies, science and the arts.
The National Dance Institute, a nonprofit organization, offers weekly classes to every student in grades k-4. Music is woven into history and geography lessons; children learn why one part of the country gave birth to bluegrass, another to jazz and blues. Children not only sing in the chorus and learn to play instruments, but they also learn about the physics of sound.
In every class we visited, children seemed happy and engaged in interesting projects. Children move efficiently and quietly from one activity to another, with little wasted time. There's a tolerance for quirky kids: A child who has trouble sitting on the floor may sit on a wiggle seat (an inflated cushion that allows him to wobble without distracting others) or be assigned active tasks such as wiping down tables or taking the attendance sheet to the office.
Like PS 199, PS 452 has a very active PTA that raises a substantial budget to pay for teaching assistants in some classrooms, periodically, as well as extra arts programs. "Almost everything we have that sparkles comes from the PTA," Parker said. Almost every classroom has two adults, including teachers, teaching assistants, teachers aides and student teachers from Teachers College.
Also like PS 199, PS 452 has a well-developed writing program as part of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Children's work we saw posted was quite sophisticated, including persuasive essays (with topics such as Trains are the best form of transportation, and Dogs are better than cats) and literary essays analyzing character development in picture books. The Everyday Math Program, developed by the University of Chicago, encourages children to understand the conceptual foundations of math.
Social studies and science are integrated in thematic units such as the bridge study in which children learn the history of how the Brooklyn Bridge was built and the science of what makes bridges stand up. Children make paper models of skyscrapers with the help of Salvadori, a nonprofit group, that offers lessons in architecture and engineering.
In fifth grade, children have one teacher for math and science and another for English and social studies. The arrangement allows teachers to specialize in their subjects and has the effect of putting more emphasis on math and science than many elementary schools manage.
In 2017, the school moved to 210 West 61st Street, to a building that formerly housed PS 191. (PS 191 moved to a new building.) Parker said the move allowed PS 452 to expand and serve more children. A parent said some students left to attend PS 87 at the time and class size is small in some grades but she expects that will change as the school settles into its new location. As for a downside, she said some parents would like a foreign language and the outdoor playground could use sprucing up.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: A SETSS teacher on each grade may work with individual kids and serve as one of two teachers in an ICT (integrated co-teaching) class part of the day. There are no self-contained special education classes, but there is a commitment to ICT on each grade level, and there are OT, PT and speech services.
ADMISSIONS: PS 452 is a zoned school. (Clara Hemphill and Aimee Sabo, January 2016, updated October 2018 to reflect move.)Read more