Paula Hedbavny School (P.S./M.S. 278)
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A high-performing traditional school with a sweet tone
PS 278 has a gentle, caring atmosphere and an emphasis on traditional manners and values--in some ways reminiscent of the parochial schools Principal Lillian Reyes attended as a child. There's a focus on basic skills such as handwriting, phonics, and the conventions of grammar. Children wear uniforms, and some of the classrooms have desks in rows.
This high-performing school, founded in 2004, has become increasingly popular, not only with Spanish-speaking families who have long lived in the neighborhood, but also with newcomers.
Reyes, who became principal in 2015, says the policy on uniforms "levels the playing field" between well-off and working-class children. The culture of the school encourages children to get along with one another. "There's no place for hate," she says. "Everyone values everyone else."
Children take trips around the city: the Holocaust Museum, the Hall of Science, or dance performances at the 92nd Street Y. Middle-school students may attend Broadway shows.
For reading, the school has adopted ReadyGen for grades K-5 and the Scholastic Codex for grades 6-8--both scripted programs recommended by the state when the Common Core learning standards were introduced.
Once a week, a schoolwide enrichment program offers children a chance to mingle and be creative. On one of our visits, we saw students create backgrounds for a puppet show, practice a song for a musical and build Eiffel towers out of clay.
All teachers in grades 2 through 6 have been trained in the Salvadori method, a hands-on method of teaching children about architecture using math and science. One year, students visited monuments before building monuments of their own related to their study of the Bill of Rights. In another year it was skyscrapers.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are several self-contained classrooms, as well as Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS). A reading specialist serves as a mentor and coach to classroom teachers.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school. Parents may tour in the fall. (Clara Hemphill, December 2015; updated August 2016)Read more