P.S. 36 Unionport
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Longtime steady leadership and seasoned staff
Some class sizes are large
PS 36 is a well-regarded neighborhood school in the southeast Bronx led by a long-time principal and a seasoned staff who welcome an ethnically diverse population. The staff continues to hone their practice to serve a wide range of learners.
Newcomers arrive throughout the school year—some speaking Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese or Thai—and are greeted with smiles and information. The school celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Chinese New Year and other special days. There are two ENL (English as a New Language) teachers on staff, and several others who are dual-certified in elementary education and ENL.
The school's century-old building has remnants of past glory, with Tiffany chandeliers in the auditorium, stained glass windows, and an oak-and-leather banquette in a hallway. It boasts a renovated library with a librarian, and music, visual arts and dance programs.
Principal Elvira Maresca was assistant principal for ten years at this school before becoming principal in 2009, and has said she runs PS 36 "like a parochial school," with an emphasis on traditional values and methods, and a formal, respectful tone. Yet in recent years the school has adopted new practices to infuse more rigor in instruction, including more student discussion in math, and more choice in reading and writing, according to the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP).
Results so far look good: state test scores are beginning to rise. Teachers work with consultants from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Program, as well as a math coach, and do more small-group instruction than in the past. Kids choose books on topics of interest and write multiple drafts in writing; they learn to edit their own work from a young age. At the same time, struggling readers get the support they need using highly structured phonics programs, such as Fundations and Sounds in Motion, according to the CEP.
PS 36 works with Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence. In this program, called by the acronym RULER, kids and adults practice recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating their emotions.
Some classes run large with more than 30 students.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Every grade has an ICT (integrated co-teaching) classroom that mixes up to twelve children with disabilities into general education classrooms. There are several small "self-contained" classrooms, as well as services such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, hearing services and adaptive physical education.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, January 2020)