P.S. 48 Mapleton
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Steady leadership and high academic standards
Small gym and no school yard
A school with many high-achieving students, but where struggling children also get attention, PS 48 scores well on standardized tests in both English and math. Many of its students are recently arrived immigrants - most from Asia but also Latin America and the Middle East - who need English language instruction. PS 48 quickly moves them into the mainstream, and many test well in math even before mastering English.
Several PTA officers graduated from PS 48 and remember when the top floor of this five-story building, erected in 1913, had a large gym. It now houses "resource rooms," offices where students get remedial help, leaving the school without sufficient space for physical education. Instead of gym, some kids take health classes. The sole outdoor play area is a caged balcony open only in spring.
Classrooms, however, have new furniture and are nicely decorated, with student papers on clotheslines and walls, and lists of educational tips scrolling from coat hangers. High test scores exempted PS 48 from the citywide curriculum for both reading and math, but the school opted in anyway, receiving piles of books to add to already well-stocked classroom libraries.
As we toured, teachers seemed confident and well-versed in the latest methods, though some seemed more comfortable than others with group work and free-wheeling student participation than others. In a lively 3rd grade class, children sprawled on a rug discussed their approaches to eating Oreo cookies, jotting notes on whiteboard slates before tackling a related writing assignment. A 5th grade class animatedly discussed characters in Pippi Longstocking. Their teacher annually helps her students raise funds for a two-night trip to an upstate environmental center. Other classes were more subdued, with students paired off, but working independently rather than together. Diane Piccuci, principal since 2001, has been arranging schedules to allow teachers to visit other classrooms and learn from the best.
Picucci has also added two music teachers to the staff, so that each child gets one period weekly of music, learning to play wind instruments in the upper grades. Kids also take art once a week. There are no gifted classes, but many PS 48 graduates qualify for selective programs in the middle schools of District 20 and neighboring District 21. Struggling students are pulled out for individual instruction. A parent leader said PS 48 has been outstanding both for her daughter, who excels academically, and her son, who is getting the extra help he needs. She felt grateful to the school for spotting her son's weaknesses.
The school has an active PTA, and regularly shows films and hosts events at Family Nights drawing big crowds. A well-attended after-school program offers remedial and recreational classes. (This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Elementary Schools. Marcia Biederman, January 2004)Read more