P.S. 72 Dr. William Dorney
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Wheelchair accessible; band, chorus and dance
Many children miss at least a month of school
In the northeastern section of the Bronx, PS 72 continues a steady upward trajectory since adopting new approaches to teaching in recent years that have energized students and staff. It gets high marks from the city on its Quality Review. Although attendance is still a work in progress—many children miss at least a month of school—the school has an atmosphere of openness, energy and engagement.
A seasoned principal and staff have a resilient cheer, even though some children live in tough circumstances with parents who are unemployed, chronically ill or incarcerated. Children feel safe, and improve in skills, even if they arrive lagging behind, school surveys and state test scores show, and those with disabilities perform at or above the citywide average. The school works with Yale’s RULER program to build social and emotional resilience in children.
The school takes advantage of its location between the Throgs Neck and the Whitestone bridges: each class adopts a bridge to study, with lessons that combine history (learning the story of when the bridges were built) and science (learning how they were constructed).
Children learn to read using books on many topics displayed in mini libraries in classrooms and learn math in part through hands-on tasks such as counting plastic cubes, using rulers and scales, or exploring shapes. Teachers have adopted the techniques of the Teachers College Writing Project, which encourages children to write multiple drafts, to edit their own work and to "publish" their pieces when done.
All students take music and visual art classes. The upper grades may sing in a chorus, students in 4th grade study dance (Foxtrot, Merengue, Swing and others), and 5th-graders have the option of instrumental music lessons and joining the school band.
Margarita Colon, principal since 2007, has opened doors to parents with activities such as "muffins and coffee" or "doughnuts with dad." Also popular are Zumba exercise classes, according to the Comprehensive Educational Plan. A Bronx native, Colon has mentored other principals in the district. The city's Quality Review praised teachers' collegial spirit and high expectations.
Good attendance is a work in progress. Some parents take kids out of school before the end of the year to visit their home countries or keep them home in bad weather. Certificates, privileges and treats provide incentives for students to come to school. Many children are bused from Throgs Neck Houses because of the highway, another impediment to getting to school if kids miss the bus.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: As one of the few barrier-free buildings in the district, the school enrolls numerous students who need special education services, including kids on the autism spectrum, and with Downs Syndrome, learning disabilities, and speech and language deficits. There are more than 30 paraprofessionals on staff and they take online courses in reading, math and disabilities. In the ACES (academic, career and essential skills) program, kids with intellectual disabilities practice independent living skills such as grocery shopping and how to manage money.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. The school also hosts a district-wide gifted and talented program. (Lydie Raschka, March 2016; updated with online data, February 2020)