Red Hook Neighborhood School
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Fresh leadership; after school programs
Attendance has a ways to go
PS 676 Red Hook Neighborhood School is a tiny school serving pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. It has an art and media room with computers, a sunny renovated library, space for LEGOS and blocks, and two free after school programs, plus one for pre-kindergartners, which is rare in the city.
Opened in 2009, the school is tucked away, almost hidden, not far from PS 15 and Brooklyn New School, two larger and more widely known schools. Red Hook has about one class per grade. The school serves a range of mostly local families but welcomes families from further away.
Priscilla Figueroa became principal in 2017 and has brought fresh energy. She brightened the walls with paint and added kids’ artwork and murals. “She is amazing at bringing partnerships in,” said parent coordinator Marie Hueston. These include after school sports and arts programs with LEAP and the YMCA, as well as partnerships with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, ACAMP African Drumming, Arts Connection, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Studio in a School, among others. Formerly assistant principal at MS 88, Figueroa is respected by school staff and involved with parents. Safety, discipline and order have improved under her leadership.
The school has long faced challenges with discipline, attendance and academic achievement, school surveys and DOE data show, but increased support for students and opportunities for families, have shown improvement, Hueston said. Children who have outbursts spend time in a relaxation room. Kids let off steam on the newly renovated playground, which has climbing equipment and a slide.
Surveys show there are some safety concerns about the neighborhood but Hueston said crossing guards, and an active, friendly police presence, help safeguard children. NCOs (Neighborhood Community Officers) conduct quarterly “Build the Block” meetings open to parents to encourage community involvement and feedback.
Raising the low attendance rate is a work in progress—many kids miss more than 18 days of school, which disrupts the flow of lessons when kids fall behind. Hueston said the staff is working to improve by “making instruction more hands-on,” so children are excited to come to school.
The building also houses the Summit Academy Charter School, a 6-12 school.
Special education: Children are served in co-teaching classes that mix half a dozen children with special needs into classes with kids in general education. “We have a great IEP [special education] coordinator,” Hueston said.
Admissions: A neighborhood school with room for students living outside the zone. Only one of two pre-k rooms had filled in fall 2018. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interview, September 2018)