PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington
New building; school expanding to include elementary grades
New building won't be able to house entire school once it is fully grown
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2006: As of the 2006-07 school year, Principal Linda Guarneri was named a network leader for Empowerment Schools. Her replacement as principal is Danielle Maringo.
2003 REVIEW: Opened in 1997, IS 30 is an Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound school, part of a progressive network of ten schools in the city that emphasize learning by doing, with a focus on "character growth, teamwork, reflection, and literacy." Teachers connect academics to adventure and service through a variety of interdisciplinary, project-based learning "expeditions." IS 30 is located in a building that once housed a Lutheran day school and apartments. If it weren't for the nameplate above the door, people indeed could mistake it for an apartment building. Inside, the lobby is bright and pleasant. On our visit, it was also the site for resource room services, due to a lack of space.
At lunchtime instead of kickball, some kids play chess in the lobby. Large rooms house an active arts program with students able to select drama, band, and visual arts as specialties. Whenever possible the arts activities reflect the "expedition," or curriculum. In a recent year the school took part in a "parents as art partners" grant, where parents painted murals that still decorate some of the walls, including one with Chinese writing that reflected their children's study of the culture. After-school activities involve the Road Runners Club, in which kids run up to five miles twice a week and participate in weekend races in Central Park.
On a day we visited, the 7th-grade "Superintendent's" (honors) class was just back from a trip to a museum at the nearby Fort Hamilton Army Base, where they had examined artifacts from the Revolutionary War. "We knew there were battles and weapons," said one girl, "but we didn't actually know what they looked like." Social studies students were auditioning over their lunch hour for the "Lincoln-Douglas" debates, and there wasn't enough space for all those who wanted to participate. The question one young debater faced was: "Should schools limit access to the Internet?" Her immediate, unrehearsed response was, "They should monitor kids but not limit the Internet." Sometimes the Outward Bound component of the curriculum has to give way to traditional teaching, as in Felloy Galanis' high-school level "Math A" class, where 7th graders were learning to simplify an expression from an equation on the blackboard. It was Albert Einstein's birthday and written on the blackboard was a quote: "Do not worry about your difficulties in math. I assure you that mine are more difficult." Galanis' students also participate in gardening at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, designing their square-foot gardens using mathematical equations. She has also managed to bring some of this experience into her classroom; students get to measure the growth rates of their very own ginger and peanut plants.
The IS 30 staff voted in "school-based option" which means a committee of parents, teachers, and administrators chooses the teachers. The result is that all teachers buy into the philosophy. It's less clear that all of the students do. On a recent visit the principal walked into a class of 8th graders who were giving a substitute teacher a hard time. She asked them to remember the three "C's" of the school motto, (Curiosity, Character, Commitment). No amount of clues or cajoling could jog their memories. There is one honors class in 6th and 8th grade and two in 7th grade. Other classes are tracked by ability level as well. An open house is held in November. (This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Middle Schools. Pamela Wheaton, 2002, updated by Catherine Man, October 2003)
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Brooklyn NY 11209
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
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Brooklyn, NY 11209