P.S. 307 Daniel Hale Williams
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Welcoming community and hands-on projects
Below average attendance
PS 307 has a strong sense of community, a thoughtful and welcoming principal, and lots of extras such as music lessons and classes in Mandarin. Housed in a brightly lit, cheery building, the school has two science labs, a health clinic, and a newly renovated library. There is a free after-school program
Parents say the school makes children feel they belong while offering families lots of guidance and support. “The school is like an extra parent,” said Ebony Richardson, a PTA member who attended PS 307 herself as a child and whose children attend now.
Principal Stephanie Carroll, whose own children attended the progressive Midtown West School in Manhattan, encourages teachers to create imaginative lessons with plenty of time for play and exploration. The school has adopted the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in which children choose books based on their own interests.
The science curriculum is well thought-out. Children may build towers with toothpicks and marshmallows; or make a mural of animals in the ocean; or learn how blubber keeps whales warm. (Children put their hands in cold water with and without insulated bags.)
Located in Vinegar Hill, a gentrifying neighborhood between the Brooklyn Navy Yard and DUMBO, PS 307 has long served children who live in the Farragut public housing development across the street. In 2016, to ease overcrowding at nearby PS 8, the Department of Education expanded the zone for PS 307 to include DUMBO, including some luxury apartments. The school serves mostly Black and Latinx children, with a small but growing number of white children. Carroll, whose mother is from France and whose father is from Senegal, has reassured parents of all races that they are welcome.
Carroll, principal since 2015, says she has focused on teacher recruitment and training. While she has faced pushback from some teachers, others seem to welcome the move from traditional to more progressive teaching techniques.
One downside: The school has high rates of chronic absenteeism. Carroll says some families go for extended vacations to their home countries; her administration is focused on educating parents about the importance of good attendance.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has extensive special education services including a special gym for physical and occupational therapy. It has well-regarded Horizon program for children on the autism spectrum as well as ICT (team-teaching) classes and “self-contained” classes for children with special needs. About one-third of the children at the school receive special education services—a high proportion.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school but students from outside of the zone are also admitted. The school has regular tours for prospective parents. (Clara Hemphill, January 2020)Read more