P.S. 59 William Floyd
Share this school
Orderly school with music, drama, art, robotics and more
Some kids miss many days of school
An annual, full-scale Disney musical gets families excited about PS 59 along with generous arts, sports and technology programs including a choir, animation, robotics, a STEM lab and girls digital coding.
Academically PS 59 is making strides, too. In this organized and orderly school, academic goals and children’s work are posted neatly in spotless hallways. Each grade has an English-Spanish dual language classroom, with lessons taught in English one day and Spanish the next. These classes have an even balance of English and Spanish speakers so kids can learn from each other. Pre-kindergartners get a taste of Spanish in the Bilingual Birdies program.
Once designated as a “focus” school in need of improvement, the city’s Quality Snaphots and Quality Guide now recognize it for boosting achievement. The tone in the building is calm and structured but kids are not expected to be silent in the classrooms. We saw pre-kindergartners dance, build and play, and 5th graders chat as they worked on math problems in small groups.
Teachers have a firm and friendly manner. Instructions were kid-friendly in all the classrooms we saw. Principal Cherry-Ann Joseph-Hislop took the helm in 2017 after serving as assistant principal since 2013, and she seems to be involved in everything, from devising an easy-to-follow 3-step method for writing a good essay, to getting to the root of behavior problems, to choosing the book of the month.
Assistant principal Zachary Mack said PS 59 has a reputation for taking kids who come in with low skills in kindergarten and bringing them up to “significantly higher achievement by the time they leave.”
Kids practice a “skill of the week” in addition to regular lessons. These are tricky concepts, such as fractions, or identifying the theme in a book, that many kids miss on tests. Teachers split classes into small groups several times a week to practice these skills and bring in an extra teacher to help. “We’ve made great strides academically,” said Hislop.
We saw lots of reading and writing in all classrooms, including in the two pre-kindergartens. In grades 3-5, kids are “departmentalized;” that is they meet with one teacher for math and another for English language arts.
Most students live in nearby Tompkins Houses or Sumner Houses and about 100 stay for the robust afterschool programs. For them, PS 59 is like a second home where they eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. The school has a dental clinic for students, two guidance counselors, and workshops for parents on topics such as nutrition and job skills.
A downside at PS 59 is its attendance rate; some kids miss many days of school, which means teachers must review lessons to help them catch up, or move on and risk some kids not understanding the lesson.
“The population we serve involves out of country connections, and temporary housing,” said Mack. Attendance is a special focus, he said. Staffers contact every student who is absent, and a morning meeting is designed in part to motivate kids to get to school on time.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has a team-teaching class on every grade, in which kids with special needs are placed in classrooms with their general education peers and two teachers, one of whom is trained to teach special education.
There are also two “self-contained” classrooms for children with serious special needs. Kids with special needs do better than the citywide average on state tests. “The quality of our special ed teachers is particularly high,” said Mack.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. (Lydie Raschka, October 2017)