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Spanish-English dual language; music and hands-on project
Attendance is low
Opened in 2018, PS 595 The Colibrí Community School offers a dual language program in which children learn in Spanish for part of the day and English for part of the day. Colibrí, which means “hummingbird” in Spanish, promises field trips, drama, music and hands-on learning with an emphasis on “family, equity and joy.”
The school has some exciting ideas but is new and untested and will need time to grow. The school admits children as young as 3-years-old and will continue to add a grade per year until it becomes a full 3-K to 5th grade school in 2022.
The home language for the majority of students is Spanish, although some speak French and Arabic, according to the Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP).
Founding principal Suheil Pimentel speaks both Spanish and English, and has three master’s degrees: in educational leadership (Pace University), culture and communication (New York University) and urban education (Mercy College). She has served as a special education coach, staff developer, and assistant principal for the New York Department of Education, according to her LinkedIn profile.
PS 595 gets praise for its positive culture and tone on the city’s Quality Review. The music teacher hosts a weekly sing-a-long. Every child receives music lessons in Spanish and English at least twice a week. Students study piano and learn the basic elements of vocal music and dance, according to the Arts in Schools Report.
According to the CEP, students go beyond textbooks to study real-world issues, such as how communities change over time, comparing and contrasting information from interviews, articles, photos and books.
Roughly one-quarter of the students have special needs. To support them, teachers post goals and question prompts on the wall. The school takes ideas from Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an approach shown to be helpful for all kids but especially kids with learning and attention issues. Workspaces and lessons are flexible; for example, kids may use headphones to block out noise, and choose from more than one assignment. In typical UDL schools students have many options for reading, including print, digital, text-to-speech and audiobooks.
The Quality Review, which is based on visits to the school, says teachers (many of whom are inexperienced, data shows) need to find ways to help all students reach their potential. While 1st-graders were engaged in a dual language class—speaking in Spanish to a partner about an exciting event that had happened in their lives—the reviewer saw limited chances for students to talk in other classes.
Attendance is low; many children miss at least a month of school.
PS 595 is housed in the PS 92 building, a school that closed for poor performance.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned neighborhood school (Lydie Raschka, web reports, May 2020)