P.S. 46 Edward C. Blum
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Magnet program brings in cultural arts programs
Declining enrollment, many children are chronically absent
Located on a quiet residential street in Fort Greene, PS 46 has an inviting library, a rich arts program and class trips to museums such as the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hallways are lined with colorful projects that reflect the school's largely black and Hispanic population: Mardi Gras masks, maps of African nations and totem poles as part of a study of Native Americans. A dual language Spanish-English program begins in pre-k.
The school's enrollment has declined as some families choose charter schools; others are forced out of the neighborhood by rising rents. Some class rosters have dropped drastically: Five students from one Spanish dual language class moved over the summer of 2015, leaving only 12 children in the class.
That leaves space for children from other areas of Brooklyn, including many whose parents work in nearby downtown Brooklyn. "We take everybody," said Karyn Nicholson, principal since 2009. Unfortunately, lateness and absenteeism are a concern: More than 40 percent of children missed more than a month of school in 2014-15.
The school's attendance zone includes single family homes, new apartment buildings, and NYCHA housing developments. More than 50 students live in homeless shelters.
A magnet grant for communication and media arts has brought in many outside partners who assist teachers in infusing arts, science and social studies into daily lessons. Each unit of study culminates with a school-wide celebration in the large auditorium. Social studies ties into daily math and reading lessons: 3rd-graders made beaded rings and necklaces, learning about math patterns as well as African culture.
Fifth-graders built their own "rainforest" in the classroom and invited kindergartners to tour it. Ginjer Clarke, author of What's up in the Amazon Rainforest, visited the class and read from her book, and commended the students on their rainforest. "I could not be more impressed," she said.
A parent praised the "affectionate" nature of the school. "I know everybody and my daughter is comfortable," she said. "It's a peaceful place." Many staff members have family members who currently, or formerly, attended the school.
There are three pre-kindergarten classrooms in a separate pre-k wing, but only the dual language pre-k class had a full roster in 2015-2016. The lack of a full-time after-school program dissuades some families from choosing PS 46, the principal said.
State test scores are below average for the city. PS 46 uses the city's recommended curriculum: GoMath and Ready Gen, supplementing with other programs. Math worksheets were in general use in all grades to make sure students learn the basics.
The building, shared with Fort Greene Prep middle school, has a beautifully inviting library built by the Robin Hood Foundation, a large auditorium and an outdoor school yard, adjacent to a city playground. There is a full-size gym, but, sadly, no gym teacher. Classroom teachers take students to the shared gym once a week.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Most special needs students are in self-contained classrooms for special education only. A SETSS teacher comes into some classrooms to offer support services but there are no ICT (integrated co-teaching) classrooms.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. There are many openings for students from outside the zone and even the district, for dual language and the magnet program. (Pamela Wheaton, January 2016)