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PS 10 Magnet School of Math, Science and Design Technology
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Welcoming environment, extensive after school programs
Bathrooms need an upgrade
PS 10 is located in a rapidly changing area of Brooklyn on a block where the neighborhoods of Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights and South Slope converge. Once a school serving mostly working-class Spanish- or Arabic-speaking families, PS 10 now also includes the children of professors and professionals and a mix of different races and ethnicities.
The enrollment has increased by more than 60% in the past decade, a sign of the school's growing popularity (as well as an expanded attendance zone). In fact, PS 10 has become a destination school: While it may not yet have the cachet of PS 321, some parents move into the neighborhood just so they can send their children here.
"The culture is extraordinary," Anita Skop, superintendent of District 15, wrote in her assessment of the school, called a Quality Review. "Students are comfortable explaining their projects with other students or with adults. They see themselves as part of a community and are expected to contribute to that community."
Principal Laura Scott runs a tight ship, but the administration has been strained since opening up a pre-school facility at a nearby location. This is perhaps one reason why nearly one-third of teachers complained about her management style in the annual school surveys. But parents almost unanimously recommend the school, and Scott gets high marks on the city's principal assessments.
"Most of the teachers are very good, and there are a number of true master teachers who mentor the others," one father said. "There are a few teachers who have been there for a long time whose methods are a bit outdated. On the bright side, the school gets many, many applicants for any teacher opening, and so any new hires are always great."
While the school is large, kids don't get lost—the assistant principal and principal seem to know every child's name. The size brings advantages in terms of the physical plant—the gym, science labs, and cafeteria—that smaller schools nearby don't have.
PS 10 has a strong commitment to serving children with disabilities as well as new immigrants learning English. The building is mostly wheelchair accessible, and children with limited mobility are not only made to feel welcome, they are an integral part of the school.
One kindergarten class launched a "wheelchair study" after they discovered a classmate couldn't go down the subway stairs because he used a wheelchair. They learned how their classmate used a lift to ride the school bus, researched which parts of the school were wheelchair accessible, and even built toy wheelchairs out of blocks. (The wheelchair study was described in a book edited by Julie Diamond called Teaching Kindergarten: Learning-Centered Classrooms for the 21st Century.)
The school offers workshops for parents who are learning English, both to make them feel a part of the community and to offer strategies to help their children study at home. There are also General Education Development (GED) classes for parents.
Teachers have time to plan lessons together and perfect their craft. They work together to develop a curriculum that works for children of different abilities.
Kids have a chance to meet luminaries: Henry Louis Gates visited the school to shoot an episode of his PBS series, and the entire 5th grade went to Washington, DC, for a personal audience with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor one year.
Scott is particularly proud of the school's relationship with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center; children across all grade levels learn everything from music and lyrics to set design and building. Kindergartners also learn keyboarding with Music and the Brain. There is an after-school program run by the PTA, and the YMCA runs a free after-school pickup. Scott said children need "more than just math and reading; we have to give them something to look forward to every day."
There is no room for pre-kindergarten in the PS 10 building, but in 2014, a large "pre-k center" opened nearby that is administered by Scott. As mentioned, this has added a bit to the school's growing pains, but it also appears successful and set to expand.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has seven inclusion classrooms that use the Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) approach to teach special education students together with their general education peers. There are three self-contained classrooms. Adaptive equipment allows all students to participate in all aspects of the school.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Sign up for tours on the website at www.ps10.org. Space for students outside of the zone is limited after a 2012 rezoning of Park Slope schools added eight blocks to the PS 10 zone. (Clara Hemphill, interviews and school data, August 2016)Read more