P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry
Close-knit neighborhood school with patriotic celebrations
PS 34 is a close-knit neighborhood school with good attendance, high test scores and a warm sense of community. The neighborhood has long been home to working-class Polish and Spanish speaking immigrants. Increasingly, Greenpoint has gentrified, and PS 34 has successfully integrated the old-timers and newcomers, parents say. In 2015, PS 34 became the first school in New York City to offer a Polish-English dual language program.
Patriotism is prized: Children begin the day with the Pledge of Allegiance. The whole school celebrates Flag Day in June with dances, songs and readings with members of the community. Children also mark Veterans Day in November, inviting veterans to speak.
"We still have a traditional heart," says Carmen Asselta, principal since 2012. "This is a true community school. No child is lost. We make every effort to welcome our parents."
One of the oldest schools in Brooklyn, PS 34 was used as a hospital in the Civil War and the former wards were divided into classrooms. As a result, there are few hallways in the buildingone must walk through one classroom to get to another, ducking under student artwork hanging from clotheslines in the makeshift corridors. Surprisingly, the arrangement works: Classes are orderly and teachers keep kids focused despite the distractions.
The school has long had the enthusiastic support of parents, according to the annual survey. "The principal knows every child by name," said a parent volunteer in the lunchroom the day of our visit. "I feel like I just walked into a family."
Reading instruction begins with the highly structured Core Knowledge approach, which emphasizes instruction in phonics, vocabulary drills, and units on history and science. For example, 2nd graders study Greek mythology, Westward Expansion and the human body. Starting in 3rd grade, children use the Expeditionary Learning reading curriculum, which emphasizes interdisciplinary projects. PS 34 has adopted GoMath, which balances quick recall of facts and conceptual understanding. Every grade has STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) enrichment classes.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers SETSS (special education teacher support services) and ICT team-teaching classes, where two teachers work with both special and general education students.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. There are monthly tours for prospective parents and the parent coordinator will schedule tours on request. The school occasionally has room for children from outside the zone. (Clara Hemphill, May 2015; updated August 2016)
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Brooklyn NY 11222