P.S. 199 The Shakespeare School
Share this school
Strong leader has built an atmosphere of trust
Many children miss a least a month of school
PS 199 The Shakespeare School serves pre-kindergarten through 5th grade students and has a gifted and talented program. Although the school still has a ways to go, it is moving in a positive direction under strong leadership. It is housed in a U-shaped building with big windows on every side in the Highbridge area of the Bronx.
Principal Yasmin Quezada took the helm in 2017. She quickly established an atmosphere of trust among teachers and parents. Teachers say she has a clear vision, sets high standards for student learning and is a good manager. The majority of the staff recommends the school to new families, according to school surveys.
The school faces challenges, according to the Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP). It serves an overwhelmingly low-income population, and more than 200 students live in neighborhood shelters. Homelessness has had a “devastating impact” on some of these children, the CEP states. Roughly one-third of the children miss at least a month of school and a large number are at least two years behind grade level in academics.
Despite these challenges, state test scores in reading and math are steadily rising and are now at or slightly better than comparable schools in the district. Attendance, while still a work in progress, has also improved. In recent years the school has expanded its arts offerings and created more space for art; an empty classroom now serves as an art studio, for example, according to the Arts in Schools Report. PS 199 offers families two afterschool program choices: one in theater, one in visual arts. Teachers also take children on field trips to explore the arts in New York City.
The school has adopted the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, an approach in which children read and write in various genres, such as opinion, information, poetry and fiction. They learn to edit their work at a young age. The school day begins with “close reading,” an important skill, where kids read slowly and carefully to identify the main idea and glean as much meaning as they can from the text with a teacher’s help. The school also fosters critical thinking in math by infusing projects and hands-on activities into lessons, and making space for children to discuss how they solve problems with each other.
The school seems to firmly believe everyone is a stakeholder in a child’s education. It invites parents not only to celebrations and workshops but also to goal setting. The principal holds a parent-staff retreat in May, during which teachers and parents revise and make plans for the upcoming year.
A social worker and community coordinator serve as liaisons between shelter and school personnel. All children living in shelters receive uniforms, book bags and school supplies. The school works with two consultants from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to support students.
Outdoors there is bright climbing equipment on school grounds, as well as open areas where kids can run and play.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Families of students entering kindergarten through 3rd grade must submit a request for testing in November for the gifted and talented program. The one-hour test takes place in January. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, February 2020)Read more