P.S./I.S. 187 Hudson Cliffs
Share this school
Strong parent involvement; calm, cheery school
PS/MS 187, Hudson Cliffs, a k-8 school, is a popular choice among families in upper Washington Heights. The school hits a lot of high notessolid academics, strong parent involvement and a cheery, calm environmentthe likely reason that most students stay through the 8th grade. Its located in a quiet, family-oriented neighborhood with many playgrounds and is a short walk from beautiful Fort Tryon Park, the home of the Cloisters.
Cynthia Chory has been the schools principal since September 2006. A former teacher and assistant principal at the school, Chory grew up in the neighborhood, where she too attended 187 through the 8th grade. Roughly 20 percent of the teachers on staff are former PS 187 students, and many teachers have a long tenure there, said Chory.
In the lower grades, we saw cheerfully decorated classrooms and a lot of attention to foundation skills. We saw kindergarten students working on their writing of upper and lower case letters. In another class, they were discussing the difference between a long and short U sound.
Students in all grades read and write a lot and theres explicit instruction in grammar. Seventh-grade students were taking a pop quiz on complex sentences on the day of our visit, answering questions such as: What is an independent clause? What is the punctuation rule if the dependent clause comes first?
Older students enjoy a traditional middle school experience. Beginning in the 5th grade, students start traveling to classes for select subjects; a full middle school schedule of changing classes every period begins in the 6th grade. Students in grades 5 through 8 are assigned lockers and get to leave school for lunch. Chory said teachers and staff volunteer to patrol the streets during the middle school lunch period.
In addition to core subjects, students take art, physical education and music. Spanish instruction starts in the 5th grade.
The school is orderly and values respect when it comes to behavior. The elementary students have quiet lunches with music playing so they focus on eating (there is a nice salad bar) rather than talking, which allows them more time for outdoor play. Students enjoy the large, open play yard at recess, and there is a small climbing structure for the youngest children.
Washington Heights continues to change demographically and incoming families are increasingly middle class. Though 187 still serves plenty of low-income families, its shift in demographics resulted in the loss of Title 1 funds, federal anti-poverty money that the school used for years to support its many successful programs.
The school is also overcrowded. Class sizes can run as high as 32.
Budgets are tight, but parent involvement is strong, with many giving their time and money to support the school. In addition to PTA fundraising, a separate nonprofit group, Friends of 187 raises over $100,000 annually to support programs in art, literacy, digital media and foreign language. Parents also help out in classrooms, offering one-on-one support to struggling learners. On the day of our visit, we saw several parent volunteers working with students in the hallway and in classrooms.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital runs a free medical clinic at the school.
Students enjoy free, onsite recreational and academic activities after school run by The Community Association of Progressive Dominicans (grades k-5) and The New York Junior Tennis and Learning Aces Club (grades 6-8). There are also niche options funded by organizations such as girls-only sports and small-group piano lessons. Several fee-based programs in the neighborhood will pick up 187 students and escort them to off-site activities.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers self-contained and ICT classes and SETSS. English language learners get extra support in their classes, on a pullout basis and after school.
ADMISSIONS: For grades k-5, the school is open only to students living in its zone. For grades 6-8, top priority goes to continuing 5th grade students, then to students living in the schools zone, and then to students and residents of District 6. Typically, the school has room for some middle school students from outside the zone. (Laura Zingmond, October 2015).Read more