The Walton Avenue School PS 294
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High-performing and community-oriented
Hard to get in if you live outside the zone
The Walton Avenue Elementary School opened in 2013 in the Mount Eden neighborhood of the Bronx. The school far outperforms almost all the other elementary schools in District 9 and is well above the city average in terms of state reading and math test scores, including for children with disabilities and those learning to speak English.
Principal Daniel Russo, formerly a 5th grade teacher, is a go-getter, who has instilled high standards for instruction, especially in the area of math. Math sessions begin with a “problem of the day” that is open-ended and “must come alive,” a teacher says in a school website video. The videos show well-run lessons in tidy classrooms with tables arranged in groups so kids can discuss how they solve problems more easily. Math worksheets are sprinkled with references to students—“How many slices of pizza did class 304 eat?”—to show children how math is part of their everyday lives. The Department of Education has made it a “showcase school” to inspire and instruct teachers at other schools in math practices.
Russo told the Democrat and Chronicle that his staff has learned to act as a "cohesive team that was passionate in turning around a school for a community we've grown to really love." They go out into the neighborhood to talk about the school and its mission, and they host events to make the school feel more like a community gathering place, including movie nights, yoga classes and cooking instruction. Thanks to grants and outside partners, the school also provides mental health supports for their students and families who are experiencing housing instability.
The school has expanded its arts programming from music to include theater and visual arts classes for all grades. After school and over the summers, partner organizations offer a wide variety of activities, including soccer, capoeira, health and wellness, and environmental conservation.
The school shares its building, which has a renovated playground and library, with PS 311 Lucero Elementary School.
Admissions: Zoned neighborhood school. (Nicole Mader, online research, January 2020)Read more