P.S. 241 Emma L. Johnston
Museum trips and lively class discussions
Gentrification has forced longtime residents out
An engaging curriculum, high expectations, creative lessons, and a group of teachers who work together as a team have earned PS 241 high marks on the citys Quality Review. The school takes advantage of its location to take children on frequent class trips to the nearby Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and the Brooklyn Childrens Museum.
The teachers are adept at sparking lively class discussions and there are lots of hands-on projects and fun activities. Children are grouped by ability; the strongest students are placed in an enrichment class.
Students seem eager to share their ideas, often in the grammatically correct complete sentences that their teachers want. In a 2nd-grade class, the teacher asked what it means to fight for a cause and then asked children to identify causes and people who had fought for them. Kindergartners animatedly considered whether a character in a story was mean or unhappy. Another kindergarten class worked in pairs to come up with letter sounds and then reported back. "My partner says, 'Popcorn pops,'" one boy offered.
In math, students are expected not only to solve problems but also to create models for solving them.
This approach also prompts discussion. A 5th-grader drew varied responses when she showed how she had solved a fraction problem. "I agree with what the number is, but I disagree with the model," one of her classmates said.
Teachers find unusual topics for students to write about. Third-graders in the enrichment class were assigned two countries and were asked to write an essay on which one was more deserving of the free books a fictional librarian planned to distribute. Another class wrote about whether snakes or sharks posed a greater danger to other animals.
In addition to trips to local museums, children may visit the United Nations and a local farm. Teaching artists come to PS 241 to offer programs in theater and dance.
The school can pay for some special programs because of the largess of Peter Malkin, a prestigious alumnus. He attended PS 241 in the 1940s and went on to graduate from Harvard and own the Empire State Building. Each year, he returns as principal for a day and has helped the school purchase technology and rebuild a playground.
The schools enrollment declined substantially a decade ago. It lost some children to charter schools but many more to rising housing costs that have driven families out of the neighborhood, says Frantz Lucius, who has been principal since 2010. The newcomers either do not have children, Lucius says, or if they do they are not sending them to PS 241. Whether that will changeand what effect it will have on PS 241remains uncertain.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS 241 offers team-teaching classes with a mix of general students and those with special needs.About 10 percent of students are English language learners, including a number from Africa whose native language is Fulani. Instruction for English language learners is provided both inside and outside their regular classroom.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. (Gail Robinson, March 2016)
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Brooklyn NY 11225