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Visual arts (incorporating math) and dance
Many students miss a month or more of school
PS 360 is tucked away on a residential street in the Kingsbridge section of the southwest Bronx. Opened in 1999, it offers theater and dance and a visual artsprogram that incorporates mathematical concepts. After school activities include softball and track, creative arts, chess club and academic help.
The arts are in partnership with established outside arts non-profits such as Marquis Studios (visual arts) and the Bronx Arts Ensemble (dance). In a collaboration with TheatreMoves, students write, analyze and interpret stories through ensemble stage performance, according to the program description.
The tone and culture at PS 360 have improved in recent years. A school counselor meets weekly with small groups of struggling students to address social and emotional needs. Students and classes receive rewards for positive behaviors, which are reinforced throughout the building.
The Playworks program prepares peer leaders to teach students how to play cooperatively and support one another socially and emotionally, reinforcing skills such as how to make friends, the CEP shows.
Families are invited to monthly literacy nights, breakfasts with the principal and a weekly family library time for fun and educational activities like building structures with straws.
The school faces challenges: more than one-third of the student population misses at least a month of school. A large number of students still fall below grade level standards (Levels 1 and 2) in math and English language arts on state exams. However, on the positive side, academic achievement is moving in the right direction, test scores show.
A special focus in instruction is on building vocabulary, especially among new English speakers and students with disabilities, according to the CEP. The school website lists “words of the week” for each grade level on its homework page, such as “planet” and “orbit” for 1st graders. Fifth grade students read with younger ones in a reading buddies program and even share books they wrote themselves, for example, on Westward Expansion. First graders make “how to” books on topics like “how to make a paper airplane.” Parents are invited to celebrate their work at publishing parties.
To assist with academics and social concerns, PS 360 works with the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Dial-A-Teacher, and the Fresh Air Fund, which offers city kids a chance to get out into the country during summer months. The Food Bank For New York City coordinates monthly grocery distributions for all children through a mobile food pantry.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Students with special needs are placed in small, mixed-age “self contained” classrooms in kindergarten through 5th grade or in team-teaching classrooms that incorporate children with disabilities in general education classrooms.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school (Lydie Raschka, web reports, January 2020)