P.S. 235 Janice Marie Knight School
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Academically high-performing school
One principal oversees three far-flung locations
PS 235 is a gigantic neighborhood school with 60 classes spanning grades pre-k through 8 spread out over three locations. It has a long history of high academic standards, setting goals it believes are high but attainable. Children from outside the zone apply to SOAR, as the school’s program for academically gifted students is known. Its selective middle school, Lenox Academy, is open to children from across Brooklyn.
SOAR, which stands for Stimulating Outstanding Achievement through Reading, has not been an official gifted program since the Department of Education centralized admission to gifted and talented programs, but it is a selective program. More than half of the classes at PS 235 are designated as SOAR classes, according to the school website.
The main building at 525 Lenox Road houses pre-K and many elementary school children. Kindergarteners and some other young children are bused from that building to the Early Childhood Center at 5811 Ditmas Ave., (718) 629-6875. Middle school students and 5th graders in SOAR attend classes in the Lenox Academy Building at 100-01 Flatlands Avenue, (718) 927-5228. One principal, Laurence Lord, oversees all three buildings and an annex called a minischool next to the main building.
PS 235 has consistently high test scores. The quality of class discussion throughout the school is high, according to a Department of Education survey. One report noted that students grappled with such topics as how to persuade a relative it is important to vote and how written texts present cause and effect. The author reported that students throughout the school are urged to examine why they might have made a mistake and how they could perform a given task better, consulting more sources, perhaps, or taking pre time.
The middle school offers an accelerated program. (Elementary school students are not guaranteed admission to the middle schools.) Eighth graders take the English and Living Environment Regents exams and Spanish proficiency exams. A select group of students take the algebra I Regents as well. Almost all students leave 8th grade with some high school credits. Approximately 25 percent of our Lenox Academy graduates in the class of 2016 were accepted to a specialized high school, according to middle school directory.
Students in all grades take visual arts with theater, dance and music also being offered in some grades. Dancers and artists from National Dance Institute (NDI), a program founded by Jacques d'Amboise, offers dance instruction. Under its No Place for Hate program, the school has a designated teacher in the main building who meets with 25 classes a week to discuss current issues in the community and the world. Teachers at the other two sites provide this as well in an effort to make it clear to students that “we are never alone,” the school Comprehensive Education Plan says.
PS 235 has had stable leadership and staff. Lord, formerly assistant principal, replaced Lisa Solitario in 2012. Solitario had been principal since the 2007 death of long-time principal Janice Knight, for whom the school is named. The school has high attendance and is safe and orderly, though middle school students responding to a Department of Education survey saw shortcomings in the academic and emotional support they received from their teachers.
Admissions: Zoned neighborhood school. Out-of-district children may take an exam for the SOAR program in January and February. For the middle school, students apply and, on the basis of their 4th grade record, may take the entrance exam. Priority goes first to students from District 18 and then to those from elsewhere in Brooklyn. (Gail Robinson, web accounts, October 2017)