P.S. 162 John Golden
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Consistently high performer
No extra space
The fine quality of instruction is literally written on the walls of PS 162, where classrooms and hallways feature well-written essays, challenging math projects, and other evidence of good, creative lessons. One hallway displayed the results of fifth graders' efforts to measure the dimensions of the school, while another hallway offered up the dioramas that emerged from children's studies of Mexican culture.
PS 162 is a relatively big school. It has more students enrolled than ideal and there is little extra space. Still, the school feels snug, not overcrowded, and kids get plenty of individual attention. PS 162 relies more on novels than readers to teach literacy. For math, the school combines traditional lessons with the more hands-on TERC program. A "math literacy" coach helps younger students learn how to approach word problems.
Our visit coincided with the school science fair, filled with kids looking at other students' displays. Projects seemed to encourage the children to develop a feel for science by exploring their interests. A fourth grader's project, for example, tested the hypothesis: "Do more expensive ice creams taste better?" (The conclusion, after giving family members a series of taste tests: Yes.)
Teaching is uniformly strong. We met an energetic kindergarten teacher who had read her students the story, "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly," and had them come up with their own versions of what the old lady might have swallowed. Second graders grappled with the hard questions suggested by a book entitled Tight Times: Why do people lose their jobs? What happens afterwards?
"The teachers bring out things in your child you didn't even know they had," said PTA co-President Margaret Allyn. Her daughter's fifth grade teacher, she said, saw to it that the students entered poetry, book writing, and essay contests.
PS 162 is one of 209 successful schools the chancellor has exempted from the citywide uniform curriculum mandated in 2003.
A significant percentage of students at PS 162 come from immigrant homes. They get extra help in learning English in two cozy rooms overseen by two full-time English language learner teachers. In recent years, the school has offered an unusual program, which uses puppetry to help kids learn English. Unfortunately, the federal grant that supported "Puppetry in Practice" ran out in June 2003 and there were no plans to continue it. While parent involvement in the school is generally high, the school struggles to boost participation of immigrant parents.
The school has no self-contained special education classes. Special education services are offered both inside and outside regular classrooms. (This school is featured in New York City's Best Public Elementary Schools. Deborah Apsel, June 2003)Read more