P.S. 152 Evergreen
dedicated, enthusiastic staff and administration keep kids focused on learning
Kindergarten and pre-k housed in a separate building
PS 152 has stable and effective leadership, enthusiastic teachers and some of the most polite and engaged kids we've seen in a long time. The school offers trips to museums and farms, science experiments and plenty of time for creative play.
Frances Lynch, principal since 2004, encourages academic rigor and hard work. “We don’t want idle minds,” she says. The school has clear rules: children wear uniforms and move in an orderly fashion in the hallway. Still, PS 152 maintains a casual, welcoming feel, demonstrated by everyone from the principal to the security guard, who warmly greets kids, parents and teachers in English and Spanish.
PS 152 is in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and has a large number of homeless students and students who don’t speak English at home. Some children arrive in the middle the year and some begin 1st grade without having attended kindergarten--and without knowing basics like how to identify colors. Lynch doesn’t dwell on these hardships. She believes as long as children have a safe space to learn and are surrounded by adults they can trust, the rest will fall into place. “What matters is that they know they’re going to be safe because I make sure they are,” says Lynch.
To help catch up to their more affluent peers, PS 152 kids get double periods of math and English daily and have nightly homework. Teachers encourage children to develop their own voices and their writing shows creativity. They push students to build language skills in all subjects. In a 2nd grade math class, a girl raised her hand to explain the lesson in skip counting: “in the number 100, there are 10 10s,” she said. “Thank you for a complete sentence,” her teacher responded, and gave her a high five. During a science lesson for children who speak English as a Second Language, kids flexed their vocabulary skills by saying words like “absorb” aloud in unison.
Test scores are below average for the city but well above average for schools serving similar populations. The Department of Education has consistently given PS 152 "A"s on its Progress Reports.
The teaching staff at PS 152 is experienced and enthusiastic. Teachers work together to plan lessons so students learn the same basics, whether they in an English as a Second Language (ESL), team teaching class that mixes general and special education, or a general education class. They use textbooks in class but bring the material alive with hands-on lessons and homemade experiments. During our visit, 4th graders dissected carnations to determine if the flowers have vascular or nonvascular root systems. Bright and colorful homemade material that shows off teachers’ well-thought out lesson plans and students’ work decorate the halls of classrooms.
The school offers music and choir lessons. PS 152 students have daily exercise with recess, Zumba class and physical education. Parents are welcome.
“We believe in making the school an inviting area for all the community,” says Assistant Principal Alana Plant. The school offers parent workshops on nutrition, how to read with your child, fire safety and the importance of mammograms for cancer screening.
Pre-k and kindergarten classes are housed in the early childhood building, supervised by Plant, six long blocks from the main building. Pre-k and kindergarten classrooms have plenty of books, blocks, art supplies and toy kitchens for dramatic play. High fences surround the playgrounds, which are near the Bruckner Expressway.
PS 152 made the United Federation of Teachers’ list of dilapidated buildings in 2013. Though the building is a bit dingy, it isn’t as bad as the label implies. Lynch explained the school made the list because of minutia like painting violations.
English as a Second Language and Special Education: At the time of our visit, PS 152 offered two ESL classes per grade. Lynch said the school’s ESL strategy is to immerse the English language learners: “I don’t really believe in pulling ELLs out of the classroom,” she said. All the ESL teachers we saw on our visit addressed the students in English, and they had no trouble keeping up. Many of the schools ELL students speak Spanish at home but, recently, the school has had an influx of students from Yemen. PS 152 also offers a range of special education services including co-taught classes that mix general education and special education students. Both buildings are fully wheelchair accessible.
Middle school: Most graduates attend MS 123 or MS 337
Admissions: Neighborhood school. (Anna Schneider, October 2013)
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Bronx NY 10472