P.S. 344 AmPark Neighborhood School

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
3961 Hillman Avenue
Bronx NY 10463
Phone: 718-548-3451

Our Insights

What’s Special

Creative projects and lessons

The Downside

No auditorium and a small yard

On a quiet residential street in Kingsbridge, Bronx, AmPark Neighborhood School is a known for its commitment to the environment, social consciousness and the arts. The school wears its “progressive” label proudly and believes children learn best by “doing” and engaging in issues that matter to them—like hatching and raising trout to release into the Hudson River Watershed.

The tone is less formal than some schools. Students and teachers are on a first name basis. In the younger grades, play is key and teachers take great pains to protect children’s ability to explore sand tables, build with blocks and act out stories—even in the testing age. Photos on the website show children building with LEGO, dissecting an owl pellet, identifying and planting seeds, cooking, building cars of out of recycled small milk containers, and on neighborhood walks using clipboards for their notes, sketches and observations.

The school was started in 2006 as a joint effort between local parents and the Amalgamated Park Reservoir Cooperative Housing Project. AmPark is unzoned and kids hail from all over the Bronx. 

Founding principal Elizabeth Lopez Towey (who departed in 2012) was also founder of the progressive Ella Baker School. The two principals who have followed at PS 344 have by all accounts maintained the school’s progressive approach. 

The school promotes a nurturing tone. Children practice mindfulness, according to the Family Handbook, such as before entering the classroom or after recess. In class, kids check in on a “mood meter” to identify how they’re feeling. 

Teachers strive to make lessons creative and to connect reading, writing and science.Kindergartners study how to “Look Closely” and record information like a scientist, according to the family handbook. PS 344 has an annual science fair. Fourth-graders may work on comic strips about solids, liquids and gasses. Every grade has a reading and writing unit that has a science connection, culminating in grade four with the unit called “Reading the Weather, Reading the World.” 

While teachers and families are very happy with the school, city data and the Quality Review call for more academic rigor. The school has seen improvement in test scores since the adoption of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in 2016. This approach aims to foster a love of reading and writing. Teachers supplement math instruction with math games and small group work. Fourth and 5th grades are departmentalized, meaning that teachers specialize in literacy/social studies or math/science, while students travel between classrooms for subjects, according to the Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP). 

The building, opened in 2011, is attached to neighborhood school PS/MS 95. It has large classrooms, a science lab, an art room, a music room and a library. Full-time music and full-time art teachers have designated rooms for each. A small side yard has a rock climbing wall, a brand-new jungle gym and cushioned flooring. Older kids walk one block to the spacious Van Cortlandt Park playground, weather permitting. A multipurpose room serves as the gymnasium.

ADMISSIONS: Unzoned. Priority as follows: children living in Van Cortlandt Village/Kingsbridge Community Heights area, others in District 10, then to others outside the district. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, July 2020)



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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2019-20 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
86% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
0% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
86% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
51% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
50% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From the NYC Program Assessment (CLASS and ECERS-R) Database through 2018-2019

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems
Activities: Children explore art, music, sand/water, dramatic play and more
Language: Teachers talk and listen to kids in a supportive way
Interaction: Teachers ask kids good questions and invite back-and-forth conversation

Who does this school serve?

From 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners
Pre-K seats
3-K seats

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
92% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
26% Citywide Average

From 2020 School Directories

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
28% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
23% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Kingsbridge (District 10)
Trains: 4 Line to Mosholu Parkway; 1 Line to 238th St
Buses: Bx1, Bx10, Bx2, Bx22, Bx28, Bx3, Bx9, BxM3


Kelly Lennon
Parent Coordinator
Niomi Vazquez

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares the building with PS 95
Metal detectors?

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