P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier
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Pet therapy, focus on community service
Test scores still have a way to go
Harambe, Swahili for "all pull together," is a guiding principle at PS 102, a promising school located in East Harlem near the Thomas Jefferson Houses. Led by a dynamic, well-respected principal with high aspirations for what the school can become, PS 102 is using programs such as urban gardening, relationship-building lessons and outreach service projects to nurture and support a positive sense of community within the school and the neighborhood.
Craig Pinckney-Lowe, a former achievement coach for a network of schools, including PS 102, replaced longtime principal Sandra Gittens in 2013. He's had his work cut out for him. According to the school survey, PS 102 has a way to go regarding issues of school safety, absenteeism and lateness, social emotional skills and mediocre test scores. But Assistant Principal Jacqueline Wilson thinks Pinckney-Lowe is the person to make a difference. "He is one of the brightest men I knowsmart, innovative and has a moral center." [In January 2016 there was another change in leadership when Julie Mullan became interim acting principal after Pinckney-Lowe left for an administrative position in the Bronx. She was previously an assistant principal in District 6.]
Pinckney-Lowe has continued programs put in place by Gittens, such as swimming during the school day at nearby Asphalt Green and pet therapy, where a social worker brings in a "comfort" dog that children may read aloud to without fear of judgment or correction.
To connect the school to people living in the surrounding community, students and their families collect goods that cannot be purchased with food stamps and work with an East Harlem community organization for distribution to families who are homeless. Students also work with Concrete Safaris to cultivate a garden and distribute the food grown in it to the surrounding community. Within the school community a cultural festival is held for families complete with food, dance, art projects and student performances. Each week families are invited into the classrooms to read or do projects with their children and classmates.
Since 2011, the school has had a district-wide gifted and talented program. To boost achievement all around,Pinckney-Lowe has empowered teachers to come up with strategies to improve student academic work, including a specific focus on writing. Collaboration and conversations take place between instructors in pre-k and kindergarten, and in 2nd and 3rd grades. Teachers also use strategies such as pulling kids out to work one-on-one and using small group instruction to tailor the curriculum to individual learners.
Teachers lead after-school programs such as a Lego club, basketball, cheerleading and fitness programs. Other initiatives include work by teachers and coaches from Asphalt Green to provide structured activities and on-the-spot conflict resolution strategies during recess to make it a smoother part of the day. Fourth and 5th-grade girls get guidance on building respectful relationships with each other to help smooth the transition to middle school. Most students go on to attend Isaac Newton Middle School for Math & Science.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are three classes for children with special needs only and every grade, from pre-k to 5, has an ICT (integrated co-teaching) class in which two teachers, one trained in special education, work with a mix of general and special education students. There is also a special education teacher who works with individuals and small groups as needed.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. The gifted program is district-wide and also draws students from as far away as the Bronx when space is available. All grades will offer G&T by the 2016-2017 school year.(Mahalia Watson, November 2014)Read more