P.S. 67 Charles A. Dorsey
Share this school
School is making a comeback with caring leadership & community support
Old building needs TLC; math scores have a ways to go
Adjacent to large public housing developments, PS 67 is a small, caring school with energetic leadership, engaged students and a raft of extras such as counseling, dental care, an extended school day and even a late-afternoon meal. Originally known as the African Free School, it was the first to serve African-Americans in Brooklyn in the 19th century.
PS 67 is making a comeback after years of decline. Test scores for reading, while still low, are improving. Discipline has improved, according to school surveys, and teachers are enthusiastic about the principal, Kyesha Jackson, who came in 2015.
"She really gets to know the kids and us. It's been a breath of fresh air," said science teacher Morgan Cremin.
PS 67 is one of 94 low-performing schools that have received extra funds for social services and a longer school day as part of the city's initiative called Renewal Schools. Whatever the success of the initiative overall, at PS 67 it seems to be working.
In all the classrooms we visited, students were happily focused on their work and could clearly articulate the lessons at hand, meeting high expectations for them. Instruction is personalized; children have access to thousands of books via online libraries as well as on classroom bookshelves.
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms are huge, filled with inviting toys, blocks and dramatic play corners. Teaching artists come into the school. Some projects-such as making animal kites for Chinese New Yeartie into the social studies unit on China. Students read junior great books and take part in Socrates discussion.
Third graders studying the life cycle of frogs were reading non-fiction and inviting picture books, and writing down unfamiliar words. They used sophisticated words like "carnivore" to describe what they learned and helped one another out as they read. The teachers, and support staff, moved from group to group helping students.
The science lab is particularly inviting, with numerous habitats and little critters, among them a meal worm, a pet gerbil and a 10-year-old catfish named Colonel Mustard. Students did an experiment about how metamorphic rocks could turn into igneous, using colored crayons as a model.
The school, which shares a building with Community Roots Charter School, serves a needy population. About half the children live either doubled up or in homeless shelters. The rate of chronic absenteeism is high, much of it due to student or family illness.
Jackson and Tal Bar-Zemer, community school director from the non-profit organization Partnership with Children, have teamed up to offer children both challenging academics and a range of services designed to address some of the effects of poverty. The division of labor allows the principal to focus on instruction while Bar-Zemer can focus on attendance and families' well-being. Bar-Zemer call herself the "assistant principal of feelings."
The school helps parents manage their children's asthma. It works with city housing authorities to fix up apartments and make needed repairs that could adversely affect children's health. On our visit, we saw brightly wrapped Christmas presents piled up in the principal's office, courtesy of New York Cares and chosen in response to student letters. A nice perk for parents: a free ticket to the Nets or Islanders games at Barclay Center.
Summer teacher training focused on helping teachers deal with behavioral issues; teachers learn to recognize signs of bullying and conflict and students are taught productive ways to express anger or frustration. A supportive social worker is on hand to help teachers. There is an inclusive strategy for involving parents including hosting weekend meetings coinciding with a festival in the huge, inviting schoolyard for students.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Most students with IEPs are in self-contained classrooms. There is one team-taught class although the principal said she would like to increase the number in the future. "We're trying to move away from self-contained," the principal said.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. The school is under-enrolled and has space for out of zone children. (Pamela Wheaton, December 2016)