Professor Juan Bosch Public School 178
Share this school
Thoughtful inclusion of every type of learner
Some limited facilities; the gym doubles as an auditorium
When you step into the light-filled atrium at PS 178 you are met with friendly greetings from parents, a security guard and the largely bilingual staff. This small school excels at mixing learners of all abilities and giving each the individual attention he or she needs. "We've always been a school of inclusion," said Principal Deirdre Budd, a Bank Street graduate who founded the school based on principles from Teacher's College, a think-tank for innovative teaching in the areas of reading and writing.
PS 178 weaves three programs together in a remarkably cohesive way. The Dual Language Program begins in kindergarten with mostly Spanish instruction, progressing to half-English and half-Spanish by 2nd grade. Once kids reach 3rd grade they practice reading and writing in Spanish in a variety of subject areas. The school also has an ASD Nest program in District 6 for high-functioning autistic children who are mainstreamed in small classes. And there are classes that mix a variety of children with special needs with general education students. The learning goals are the same but the means vary.
Children get used to the special tools that abound in classrooms, like the ball chair, designed to help a wiggly child sit still. Academic abilities span many levels in one room. Because class size is small and there are many adults - we counted up to four in some rooms - teachers manage this range thoughtfully, and they send letters home so parents know how to help out too.
Adaptations for children with special needs have occasionally been adopted by the whole school in ways that seem beneficial. Movement and music, initially a tool to help children with disabilities start the day, is now a five-minute aerobic workout piped in over the loud speaker. Schedules and signs include both words and pictures so kids have more than one way to understand.
Teachers are flexible regarding curriculum changes. For instance, they switched to Go Math after finding that Envision Math didn't reinforce skills enough, and added more open-ended questions to this program, as well. Literacy takes place early in the day. Even art, gym and science teachers pitch in at this time to give kids special attention. The school tries to employ staff members that are multi-faceted and dual certified. The staff seems to like the school leadership and teachers rarely leave; the same substitutes return, loyally, for years.
Students feel a sense of ownership of the building. It's not just the custodian who reminds the principal to turn the lights off when she leaves a room, but also the "green team," a group of kids who roam with green helmets and clipboards. However, as lovely as the building is, it doesn't have a real auditorium. Instead, they use the "gym-a-torium," or reserve other locations for school-wide events. Just as students are nurtured, so are families, who are embraced at events like Multicultural Day and invited to join a variety of classes like Zumba fitness or English as a Second Language. There is a 2nd grade choir that meets after school and a fee-based after-school program operated by the Children's Arts and Science Workshop.
Families are reluctant to leave this unique environment and were thrilled when the school added 3rd grade in 2013 and expanded into a full pre-k through 5th grade school by 2016.
ADMISSIONS: A lottery school. (Lydie Raschka, updated via email, June 2016)Read more