The Emily Warren Roebling School
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Innovative partnerships, projects and math program
2016 rezoning did not alleviate overcrowding
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Brooklyn Heights, PS 8 has active parents, an imaginative curriculum and a special focus on social studies. It hums along like a well-serviced vehicle.
Thematic social studies units are at the heart of the curriculum at both sites. Second-graders create a "Box City" of restaurants, banks, a hotel and even an Irish pub from cardboard boxes, and learn about community, business and architecture in the process. Each "citizen" is given $100 per day to "live" in the city and must figure out how to pay taxes.
Fifth-graders learn to argue for a cause they believe in as part of Project Citizen, a program designed to encourage participation in government. One group was avidly seeking more physical education time—PS 8 students only get one gym period per week—citing research that shows too many children are obese.
Disappointed with the city math curriculum, the PTA purchased Bridges in Mathematics, the first public school in the city to adopt it. The program emphasizes manipulatives, such as counters, rulers and other tools to help kids visualize math.
The PTA has raised close to $1 million each year. (The day we visited was the eve of a golf tournament fundraiser). The money pays for teaching assistants and a long-standing collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum to bring teaching artists into the school and to take 3rd- and 4th-graders to the museum where they learn to become docents.
Classrooms are clean with well-defined centers. This lends a calm atmosphere even in the art room where soft music was playing. Missing is the clutter of hanging paper charts—the use of SMART Boards suffice, teachers said. Parents may bring their children right to their elementary classrooms.
In September 2019, the middle school grades began operating as a separate school, MS 915, under separate leadership. Its teaching staff and location inside the Westinghouse High School Campus building remain the same.
From MS 915's website: "In 2018, the School Leadership Team of the PS 8/MS 8 community successfully worked with the Department of Education to split the two schools so that each school could have its own focus, funding, mission and vision. MS 915 continues on the path that MS 8 established, now completely devoted to the education and upbringing of tweens and young teenagers."
There is a free after school program, plus a fee-based program based on teacher’s passions like newspaper, jiu-jitsu and many other choices.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is at least one ICT (integrated co-teaching) class on every grade. PS 8 enrolls some severely disabled children, including some who are non-verbal and have one-on-one assistants.
ADMISSIONS: Zoned, neighborhood school. Despite a 2016 rezoning to alleviate overcrowding, PS 8 had a kindergarten wait list in 2017 and there is no longer room for pre-kindergarten classes. Fifth-graders get priority in admission to the middle school, now known as MS 915. (Pamela Wheaton, PS 8, May 2016; middle school info updated October, 2019)Read more