P.S. 101 School in the Gardens
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Beautiful surroundings, experienced principal and staff
Some parents say there isnt enough time for play
PS 101 is nestled is Forest Hills Gardens, a leafy community of Tudor-style houses and quiet streets. It has a stable staff, involved parents and a principal well experienced in teaching children to write creatively and to think about books as literature.
Monique Lopez-Paniagua, who has led the school since 2012, gives her staff extensive training in its methods of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop. In the classrooms we visited, children not only learned to sound out words, they also learned to analyze characters and plot development.
It doesnt say he is sad, said a 1st-grade teacher, reading aloud from Peters Chair, Ezra Jack Keats story of a boy who is jealous of his newborn sister. How do we know he is sad?
Third-graders wrote persuasive essays with titles like Why cops are wonderful and Stop hunting and poaching animals. In one class, children flopped on a rug to read books they chose themselves.
The school has adopted GoMath, a series designed to teach children the underlying concepts of arithmetic. They really understand why we are re-grouping for subtraction, said a 2nd-grade teacher. When I was in school, I just did it. I didnt know why I did it. Teachers have a chance to meet with one another to perfect their own understanding of the new methods, and the school offers parent workshops as well.
Over the years, some parents have complained that there is too much emphasis on academics and not enough time for play, particularly in kindergarten. Assistant Principal Irtiz Gonzalez, who gave us our tour, acknowledged that todays kindergarten classrooms look more like the 1st grade of a generation agowith desks instead of blocks or dress-up corners. Gym is offered just once a week. But she said teachers encourage children to exercise in the classroom with activities like Zumba. And kindergartners have choice time at the end of the daya chance to pick an activity they like.
One downside: A teacher who was removed from the classroom for bullying children was reassigned to an administrative job at the school in fall 2014, angering some parents. The principal, Lopez-Paniagua, declined to comment.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes with two teachers and a mix of general education children and those receiving special education services. There are no self-contained classes.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. The school has just one pre-kindergarten class of 18 children. Even for siblings there is a waitlist, said Gonzalez. PS 101 also has a 6th gradeunusual in the city. Some children choose to leave for middle school after 5th grade, but for those who want to stay, PS 101 offers a cozy alternative. (Clara Hemphill, January 2015)Read more