P.S. 770 New American Academy

Grades Pre-K, K-5
Staff Pick
60 East 94 Street
Brooklyn NY 11212
Phone: 718-221-5837
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Our Insights

What’s Special

Innovative classroom structure allows for in-depth exploration on one topic

The Downside

Success depends on teachers' skill in managing new lessons each year

Taking inspiration from Waldorf education, and the open classrooms of the 1970s, teachers at the New American Academy remain with students from kindergarten through 5th grade, and work in teams of up to four, with about 60 students, in large open rooms. Other features at this unusual progressive school include no homework, outdoor recess in all weather, and science projects that include solar ovens made out of pizza boxes and designing structures for baby chicks. Lessons follow six-week-long themes on topics like Ancient Egypt or electricity.

Teachers stay with students in one room as they move through the grades, which means they manage the same kids, but at a new developmental level, and must learn all new lessons. Master teachers in each classroom earn the same six-figure salary the principal earns, a practice made possible because the school does not hire deans or assistant principals. The master teachers coordinate and mentor their own small teams of apprentice teachers. "That's kind of the strength and the vulnerability," said a parent, adding that her child's team is effective.

There are three staff members still in place here since the school's 2010 founding by Harvard-educated Shimon Waronker,who remains involved as an advisor. A few left to teach at one of two additional New American Academy schools. Former kindergarten teacher Jessica Saratovsky became principal in 2014. A longtime 1st-grade teacher at PS 33 in Manhattan, she has recruited several former colleagues.

Teachers plan lessons during a 90-minute morning meeting while children eat breakfast and exercise in other parts of the building with support staff. Then 60 children filter into one large room and divide up for lessons. "My one worry was the size of the class," said a father who works in TV sound production. "But it works so well. The kids help each other out."

The relaxed and positive atmosphere is a draw for parents. "What I see here is empathy," said a 4th-grade parent. "Everybody knows each other." One mother who moved her son to the school in 3rd-grade has been particularly pleased with the school's emphasis on positive feedback to parents, while not neglecting a child's challenges. "He's happy to come to school now," she said.

The make-up of the student body is changing as gentrification gains a foothold in Crown Heights. In the lowest grades blondes and brunettes are beginning to outnumber the larger school-wide African American majority. The administration actively recruits children from the community to try to retain the school's racial and economic diversity, which members of the school community said they value.

The principal said teachers try to avoid dull workbook test prep in favor of solid instruction and hands-on projects. One change has been to adjust the schedule to allow for additional small group lessons and to ask kids to tackle shorter reading passages in 3rd-grade. "My child is in a testing grade so that's important to me," said a 4th-grade parent, who admitted she'd like to see stronger test scores.

Even-keeled Saratovsky leads a parent forum on Friday mornings with coffee, pastries and food-for-thought. On the day of our visit, she showed a video in order to brainstorm ways PS 770 students might use technology in the classroom. This sparked a discussion on race, the school's "no homework" policy, and the fears children were expressing related to news of police aggression. Saratovsky, who is herself a mother of young children, was able to draw candid comments from a diverse group of Caribbean, African American, Asian and Caucasian parents.

Instead of hiring art and music teachers, the staff prefers the flexibility and lower cost of arts residencies in partnership with Center for Arts Education. All student take visual arts, dance or theater. There's an after-school program until 6 pm for a fee of about $10 a day.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Children with special needs are integrated into general classrooms and grouped according to need for lessons.

ADMISSIONS: Priority to District 17. There were about 200 applications for 36 pre-k spots in 2014. (Lydie Raschka, May 2015)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2016-17 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
82%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
76%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
82%
85% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
67%
77% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school
3.8

How do students perform academically?

What is the Pre-K like?

From this school's most recent Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems

From this school's most recent Early Childhood Environmental Rating System (ECERS-R)

Activities: Children explore art, music, sand/water, dramatic play and more
Language: Teachers talk and listen to kids in a supportive way
Interaction: Teachers ask kids good questions and invite back-and-forth conversation

Who does this school serve?

From 2017-18 Demographic Snapshot

Enrollment
289
Asian
1%
Black
59%
Hispanic
9%
White
19%
Other
12%
Free or reduced priced lunch
56%
Students with disabilities
16%
English language learners
2%

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
94%
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
19%
23% Citywide Average

From 2018 School Directories

Pre-K seats
36


For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location

Location

Flatbush (District 17)
Trains: 4 Line to Crown Hts - Utica Ave; 3 Line to Sutter Ave - Rutland Road
Buses: B12, B14, B15, B17, B45, B46, B47, B65

Contact

Principal
Jessica Saratovsky
Parent Coordinator
Deneice Laforest

Other Details

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the building with PS 398
Metal detectors?
No

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