The Family School
Share this school
Strong leadership team, safe and welcoming atmosphere
No outdoor play space
The Family School has made good strides in recent years, not only in a better safety and tone, but also in effective academic instruction that takes into account different styles and paces of learning. It offers a dual language program in English and Spanish, and extends a warm welcome to families.
The school has a strong, respected, no-nonsense leader in principal Rowena Penn, who took the helm in 2015, when state test score percentages were well below the citywide average. While scores still have a ways to go, they are improving each year under her leadership. This includes test results for children with disabilities and those learning to speak English. Extra instruction for struggling students and enrichment for high-achievers takes place after school, on Saturday and in the early morning.
Classrooms were calm when we visited. Children worked well together in small groups, with or without a teacher, as well as independently on a variety of tasks. Teachers do not neglect basic reading and math skills, such as multiplication facts or phonics, but kids also delve into creative writing and are allowed choice about topics they want to read and write about, and how they solve problems in math. Penn wants her students to “have it all,” −a solid grounding in skills as well as extra enrichment if they’re ready.
Pre-kindergarten is a year devoted to exploration and learning through play. Teachers emphasize big new words—like blueprint, concrete, construction—as kids explore themes, such as “Where I live.” In newsletters posted on the website, teachers in each grade outline what kids are learning so parents can follow up at home. Kindergartners take neighborhood walks to explore their surroundings through their five senses; fourth graders study Native Americans of New York State; 5th graders research how geography impacted Inuit, Pueblo and Mayan culture.
Parents and caregivers are welcome. They are invited to a monthly “chat and chew” with the principal, honor roll breakfasts and more. Parent workshops may include tips on how to help a child with reading or homework. There are also adult classes for English language learners
Attendance is rewarded at the school and the progress in this area is good. Yet it is still a work-in-progress: roughly one-third of the students miss at least a month of school.
The Family School has music and visual arts classes, as well as an array of physical fitness activities, but lacks an outdoor play space.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Team-teaching classes incorporate up to twelve students with disabilities into general education classrooms; one teacher is certified in special education.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school. (Jacquie Wayans, Oct. 2019)Read more