P.S. 200 Benson School
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A bilingual gifted program for Russian-speaking children.
PS 200 is a large school with a Russian dual language program and a gifted and talented program for Russian-speaking children, called Globe. In each grade there is a dual language class and a Russian gifted and talented class. Students learn to read and write in Russian. The city recognized the GLOBE program for its rigor and effectiveness, according to the Quality Review.
The school is quite large, and Principal Javier Muniz says his biggest challenge is over-crowding. The school boasts a full-size gym, a large auditorium, and a library and media center.
We strongly believe in the arts, said Muniz in a phone interview. We have a connection with Carnegie Hall and start children in 3rd grade with a recorder program, and they graduate into a band program in 4th and 5th grade. The school also has a specialized violin program students can try out for starting in 1st grade.
For high achieving students, the school offers specialized electives on Fridays. Students can choose from a variety of electives such as computer, art, robotics and opera.
More than 95 percent of parents feel welcome and say their students are safe, according to the Learning Environment Survey. However, there appears to be some friction between the principal and the staff. More than 50 percent of the teachers surveyed said the principal is ineffective and that they do not get the help they need with behavior problems.
Muniz said not all teachers responded to the survey and the complaints reflect a small number of teachers. We have no behavior problems. We have a strong behavior management team and guidance counselors, Muniz said in response. Muniz says the school is spearheading a behavior intervention program in the district, and sends teachers for teacher training over the summer.
Muniz became principal at PS 200 in 2008. He started his career as a paraprofessional, and worked as a teacher in PS 1 and PS 172. His first administrative job was as an assistant principal at P.S. 20 in Manhattan.
Special Education: The school has self-contained and ICT classes.
Admissions: Zoned school. The "Globe" gifted program accepts Russian-speaking students from across the zone first, and then the district if there are still spots. In the past few years the program has filled up quickly by zone applicants. There are meetings for prospective parents in the Spring and September. (Annaclaire Diianni-Miller, phone interview, July 2013)