P.S. 23 Carter G. Woodson

Grades: Pre-K, K-5
545 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11206
Phone: 718-387-0375

Our Insights

What’s Special

Supportive teachers; early morning sports program

The Downside

No full-time music or art

PS 23 is a neighborhood school where teachers go above and beyond to support children who arrive with a range of social and academic challenges. “There’s almost nothing you can throw at us we can’t handle,” said Principal Joseph Mattina. 

Mattina took the helm in 2016. Formerly assistant principal at PS 23, he is an enthusiastic cheerleader for his school. He came to education from a career in business and has taught middle and high school math. “I know the end product kids need in order to be successful to go to college,” he said. 

Test scores are beginning to improve. To boost reading skills among students, teachers lead daily phonics lessons and kids also read and write on topics of interest to them. Math classes run more than an hour long.

The school offers support beyond academics to its many students who live in nearby shelters and public housing, according to the yearly report of goals called the Comprehensive Educational Plan. A trained “comfort dog” helps calm children who may feel anxious or sad. About half a dozen teachers have had crisis intervention training, and there is a social worker and a psychologist on staff. Twenty or so paraprofessionals are assigned to work one-on-one with children who have special needs. “We treat every child like they are our own,” Mattina said.

The two pre-kindergarten classrooms have their own bathrooms and a safe enclosed outdoor play area. An early childhood expert works with teachers to maintain a high-quality program. Classrooms are stocked with blocks to build math awareness, and dress-up corners to help spark stories and writing. There are plenty of books. Kids who don’t speak English begin to pick up the language within about a month Mattina said. “It’s amazing the way 4-year-olds accept each other,” he added.

Teachers overwhelmingly recommend the school to other families, and several staff members send their own children there. Even so, there are many challenges. Lots of children miss at least a month of school. A staff member picks up students from the shelters to make sure they get to school on time, and an early morning sports program provides a fun incentive. 

Classes are small, which means more individual attention but less money for special classes like music and art. Arts instruction is therefore uneven, including, in recent years, programs in dance, theater, digital film and visual art for select grades, and a guitar club after school. 

There is a new science lab with a hydroponics program. Kids enjoy monthly field trips to all the big city museums. There is a free after school program through the 92nd Street Y.

PS 23 shares a building with Brooklyn Charter School.

Admissions: Neighborhood school. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interview, July 2019)

Read more

School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2019-20 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
81% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
0% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
80% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
51% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
49% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From the NYC Program Assessment (CLASS and ECERS-R) Database through 2018-2019

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems
Activities: Children explore art, music, sand/water, dramatic play and more
Language: Teachers talk and listen to kids in a supportive way
Interaction: Teachers ask kids good questions and invite back-and-forth conversation

Who does this school serve?

From 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners
Pre-K seats

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
25% Citywide Average

From 2020 School Directories

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
28% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
23% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Bedford-Stuyvesant (District 14)
Trains: G Line to Myrtle Ave-Willoughby Ave
Buses: B15, B38, B43, B44, B47, B54, B57


Joseph Mattina
Parent Coordinator
Tameka Cooper

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares the building with Brooklyn Charter School

Zone for the 2019-2020 school year. Call school to confirm.

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