P.S. 204 Morris Heights
Lots of music and science in a beautiful building
No full-time social worker
A gorgeous building, science lessons three times a week as well as music, dance, art and lots of field trips make PS 204 a sought-after school.
Parents and teachers are very satisfied with the school, according to the Department of Educations annual surveys, and its an open secret that some parents lie about their address so their children can enroll.
Amanda Blatter become principal in 2014 when longtime principal Marcy Glattstein retired. Blatter, who served as principal of PS 109 for 11 years, is energetic and really seems to care about the kids. "Teachers absolutely love her," said school secretary Rosalie Carbone. Blatter said teacher turnover is low, and teachers support one another and work collaboratively.
On our visit, pre-k children were engaged in dramatic play and painting, thoroughly enjoying themselves. "It's what pre-k should be," Blatter said. "I love mess. That means they are getting creative in their play."
The school has introduced the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Workshop, in which children may select books that interest them and write essays on topics they choose themselves. Blatter says the school is shifting from a traditional form of instructionwith teachers doing most of the talkingto one in which children are encouraged to take part in class discussions.
The music program seems particularly strong. Children in every grade from pre-k to 5th learn to sing or play musical instruments. They also study music theory. Instruments include recorder, drums, xylophone, guitar and piano.
There are lots of fun activities, such as a class trip to see a puppet show in Central Park, the New York Historical Society or Wave Hill gardens. Children learn ballroom dancing, singing, studio art and even put on musicals such as "Aladdin." They have physical education two or three times a week in a large gym. Children go out for recess every day.
There are two full-time science teachers, and a dedicated science labrare in elementary school. On one of our visits, we saw kids look at pictures of animals and identify which features show their adaptation to their environment. For example, an ostrichs long legs allow it to run fast and escape its predators. A giraffes long neck allows it to eat leaves in the treetops and spot predators from a distance.
The school serves a needy population, including many children in shelters or living doubled up with relatives. Good Shepherd Services offers therapy for children. On the principal's wish list: a full-time social worker and an additional guidance counselor.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS 204 offers a range of services, including SETSS, ICT team-teaching and self-contained classes. The school shares a building with a District 75 program for children with severe disabilities. A handful of children with autism from the District 75 school are integrated into general education classes.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school. (Clara Hemphill, December 2013; Mahalia Watson, November 2015)
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Bronx NY 10453
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
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Bronx, NY 10453
Bronx, NY 10453