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Effective with a wide range of students
Small outdoor space; less outdoor time than some would like
PS 295 serves a wide range of students well, including a significant number of children with special needs. Parents rave about the teachers, who are experienced and effective, city reports and surveys also show.
Located just north of Green-Wood Cemetery, the school has super-involved parents with many working artists in the mix. One parent who said she was “blown-away” by the welcome her family received when they moved from another state. They were invited to a picnic and pizza party before school began, and parents stopped to greet them in the hallways. Parents are also invited to visit classrooms every month.
The school has a well-rounded approach to math. The day starts with fun activities, such as 2-minute quizzes and games to help kids memorize math facts so they can do harder math problems with more ease. During another math class, the emphasis is on logic and applying math problems to real life situations. For example, a 5th grade teacher asked students to figure out what size turkey she should buy based on the number of guests and how much each was likely to eat.
Reading and writing instruction is a balance of creative expression and covering basic skills, such as phonics, according to a yearly set of goals called the Comprehensive Educational Plan. Kids get to choose books that interest them and are assessed often to make sure they are making progress. Parents are invited to publishing parties to celebrate books written by the children. Teachers spend little time on rote test prep for state exams, one parent said.
In 5th grade, students have different teachers for math/science and reading/writing, in order to prepare them for middle school, and to allow teachers to become experts in their subject area. Because children rotate through every 5th grade teacher, it also results in a closer-knit community. “Everyone knew my daughter,” said a parent. “She’s a quiet kid, but they knew her and challenged her.”
The arts include music, drama and visual arts. Children may write and perform their own plays; some prefer to act, others to direct or work as stagehands. All grades study music including singing, recorder or drumming. The band meets after school and is open to 4th- and 5th-graders.
Founded in 1994, PS 295 shares a 100-year-old building in South Park Slope with New Voices School of Academic and Creative Arts middle school. The building has drama studios and a stage complete with sound and lighting systems.
Some families wish there was more play space outside—and more time spent outdoors, which is apparently dependent on enough adult supervision, and “near-optimal” weather days, a parent said. During the winter children may spend recess in the library, auditorium or a movement room (the school lacks a full-size gymnasium). Congregation Beth Elohim Kids provides an after-school program for a fee, and there are some free after-school classes but not for the duration of the whole school year.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS 295 takes particular pride in its special education program, which serves nearly one-third of the population. Children with disabilities perform well above the citywide average. There is adaptive physical education for kids who have mobility challenges. A consultant supports children who are homeless, who sometimes arrive mid-year.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. PS 295 typically has space for children living outside its zone. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, July 2019)Read more