P.S. 66 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Share this school
Success teaching reading and math to new immigrants
Bathrooms in basement; cafeteria is cramped
PS 66 is a quiet and orderly school housed in a 19th century building. It has long been recognized for its strong math and reading scores, a significant accomplishment considering that a quarter of its students are English language learners and three-quarters are poor enough to qualify for free lunch. Students hail from countries including Ecuador, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Yemen, Guyana, and the Philippines.
In 2013, it was one of six New York City schools to receive a Blue Ribbon School Award from the federal Department of Education. When the state instituted new, more difficult tests in 2013, PS 66 posted scores that were well above the state average.
Principal Phyllis Leinwand came to PS 66 in 2001 after years at the nearby MS 210. She believes in the importance of teaching the basics, especially math and reading, and doesn't go in for fads. All students at PS 66 get two periods of math and three periods of Enlish Language Arts every day. There are two reading specialists on staff. At the beginning of the school year, theysit down with every student individually to assess their reading level. Based on this assessment, teachers are able to identify where students need extra help over the course of the year. In addition to two ELA class periods, students also get one period of guided reading every day where they practice their reading skills in small groups.
The tone at PS 66 is academic, even in the younger grades. Students in grades K-5 get homework every night. During the day, they sit at desks grouped in clusters and listen quietly to their teachers. There are few blocks or games, but classrooms are stocked with large classroom libraries, including some fun-looking science books. During our visit, we observed students in some classes working on assignments on worksheets or in their textbooks.
The school strives to provide opportunities for students who need extra help and for those who need more challenging work. At lunch time, struggling students may participate in the lunch and learn program that allows them to eat lunch with a teacher who helps them with their schoolwork. Twice a week, students who need more challenging work are pulled out of class for an enrichment program led by retired teachers. In the past, these students have studied Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet and Vietnamese poetry. The school also provides a popular morning and afterschool program that offers ELA and math support.
Grades K through 5 are housed in the main school building, and two prekindergarten classes are housed in a trailer behind the school. Some of the schools facilities are in need of updating. The cafeteria and kitchen are housed in the basement of the building and are dark and cramped. The school also has just one set of bathrooms for students, all in the basement. There is no gym, but there is a multipurpose room where students have recess when the weather is bad.
English language learners: About a quarter of students at PS 66 are English language learners. Most receive ESL instruction through push-in and pull-out support from one of the schools two ESL teachers, although some are taught in a self-contained class. The school uses the Rosetta Stone program to provide extra support to students learning English.
Special education: Each grade has one ICT class, which has two teachers in each classroom and a mix of special education and general education students. There are no self-contained special education classes.
Admissions: Zoned neighborhood school. (Pauline Zaldonis, October 2013)Read more