P.S. 188 Kingsbury
A strong writing program focused on nonfiction; rigorous academics
Two separate locations; limited after school program
PS 188 sits in a quiet residential area in a part of Queens that most New Yorkers never see. But word of the school has spread as far as India and China. Principal Janet Caraisco says she occasionally receives calls from overseas families planning a move to New York who want to know how they can make sure their children can attend the well-regarded school.
By most measures, PS 188 is among the top New York City elementary schools. Attendance is high, the school consistently gets strong "As" on its Progress Reports, and well over 90 percent of its student are proficient on math and reading tests,
The school sets rigorous standards and students meet them. "We have high expectations for our students, and parents have high expectations. Put that together and we have a lot of success," said Caraisco, who has been principal since 2004.
Examples of student writing -- starting in kindergarten -- hang in classroom and hallway. Second-graders are expected to use correct, as opposed to "invented", spelling, at least in work selected for display. Compositions are striking for their neatness, the result of an effort to ensure that children write legibly and that older children can read and write in script.
PS 188 students read and write an increasing amount of nonfiction. Younger students hold forth on subjects they know about -- scooters, say, or babies -- while older children do research as well.
Along with its high-powered academics, PS 188 offers arts and athletics. Every grade produces an annual show attended by all. There is a full-time art teacher and a music teacher who provide guitars and recorder instruction.Clubs for basketball, art, yearbook and chorus meet during recess.
Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten children attend classes in an annex, formerly a parochial school, located a block and a half away from the main building The division creates some problems for staff, but the annex is a welcoming building with a friendly security guard, brightly colored artwork and ample space for English language instruction, dance and gym classes.
Admissions: Almost all students at PS 188 come from its zone. Economic factors and the school's reputation have spurred a growing number of religious school parents to move their kids to PS 188, according to Caraisco, but so far the school has had room for all zoned children in kindergarten, though not in pre-k. There are two classes per grade for students who test into the District 26 gifted and talented program.If there's a tension in this high-achieving school, it comes from parents who fear that their students may be missing out on something that the gifted students receive -- or will be slowed down by working with special ed kids.
After school: There are three fee-based after school programs at PS 188. District 26 has a zoned middle schools and most PS 188 students stay in the district. (Gail Robinson, March 2012; updated via phone, July 2016)