P.S. 221 The North Hills School
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A top-notch school combines hard work and fun
Principal would like to encourage more parent involvement
A charming, inviting school in a quiet residential neighborhood, PS 221 has strong leadership, consistently good teaching and a nice balance between academics and the arts. It has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top schools in the city.
Reading, writing, math and science are all strong. Classes are designed not only to build childrens skills, but also to foster curiosity and a sense of wonder about the world. For example, in one 4th grade science class, children posted their own questions such as How do snails breathe? or How does dust form? or What started the Black Death? on a bulletin board. These questions form the basis of the childrens explorations.
Its so important to have joy in learning, said Principal Patricia Bullard. Theres a great big world out there, and we have the ability to inspire children or to turn them off. Instead of being passive recipients of knowledge, we want them to ask questions of each other and their teachers, to explore, learn and laugh. They are not vessels to be filled.
In some ways, the school is traditional. Children recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. Theres plenty of emphasis on grammar and spelling and on skills like memorizing multiplication facts.
But there is also time for kindergartners to play dress-up or build with blocks. Teachers adapt their lessons to accommodate childrens interests or special events. A 2nd grade class took the occasion of my visit to interview me about what its like to be a writerand to write their own Insideschools profile (which Ive posted in comments below).
Class trips to the Bronx Zoo, Queens County Farm and Alley Pond Environmental Center broaden childrens horizons while building their knowledge of science.Children study ballroom dancing and how to play the ukulele.
Bullard, former assistant principal of PS 221 and a teacher at nearby PS 186, says PS 221 parents are committed to education and word hard to make sure their children achieve. However, because most families have two working parents and many have long commutes into Manhattan, parents are not always involved in the daily life of the school. Bullard would like to encourage more parent involvement in the PTA.
Special education: The school offers a range of special education services, including self-contained and team teaching classes.There is adaptive physical education for children with physical handicaps.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. (Clara Hemphill, November 2013)Read more