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P.S. 197 The Kings Highway Academy
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Supportive, friendly, spacious learning environment
Parents would like more extracurricular activities.
PS 197 is a well-organized, calm and cheery school with a friendly and welcoming staff. Classrooms are large and bright and have well-stocked libraries and multiple seating areas, as well as plenty of toys and supplies in the younger grades. Hallways are neatly and creatively filled with student work displays and writing samples. Doors are brightly decorated. Rooms are furnished according to the individual style of each teacher. Even the gym is pleasantly decorated.
Students in the classrooms we visited, whether gifted and talented, general education or special education, were orderly but relaxed, cheerful and engaged, and teachers easily worked with individual groups while other groups worked independently. The school regularly assesses students so that teachers can tailor their instruction and stay on top of progress.
Rosemarie Barbiere Nicoletti has been the school’s principal since 2005, and she and Assistant Principal Anne Marie Corrado encourage open communication among staff. Teachers share lesson plans, resources and ideas, and collaborate on work and activities using Google Drive. Teachers at each grade level have at least one common prep period, and they are all encouraged to visit one another’s classrooms as well as other schools.
Many students at PS 197 speak Spanish, Russian or Uzbek. Although the school does not have a dedicated bilingual program, many of the teachers are bilingual, and the administration works to ensure that each student has at least one classmate with whom they can communicate in their native language. The school also has student ambassadors who help acclimate new students.
The building has dance, music, science, and art rooms, a library, two gyms, an auditorium, a cafeteria, several flexible spaces that are used to display art and academic projects, and a massive outdoor area that includes a play structure. The school just received a grant to build a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lab on the top floor. A multitalented teacher works with students on a sustainability program called the Green Team, and the children have successfully implemented a school-wide recycling program. Additionally, the school's arts programs allow students to participate in performances both onstage and behind the scenes, and one of the school’s newest specialists is a dance teacher (primarily for the younger grades), who has "let the kids shine in a way that we wouldn't otherwise see," said Nicoletti.
Parents have said they would like more extracurricular activities, and the school is responding by adding dance, drama and cooking classes, according to the school's yearly plan. The school's parent coordinator is also working to increase parent engagement by sending out more email letters, the yearly plan says.
Each class goes on at least one field trip per month throughout the city, and the school does several grade-specific and school-wide activities each year, such as a carnival, a social studies fair and field day.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school is flexible about student placement and monitors individual progress so that students can transition between classrooms as they develop.