P.S. 144 Col Jeromus Remsen
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Strong arts program
No music teacher
A neighborhood elementary school in Forest Hills, PS 144 offers its students the chance to participate in a wide range of activities ranging from puppet-making to ballroom dancing. The arts are well-integrated into the wider curriculum, and teachers use art to enhance academic subjects. In the classroom, teachers engage students in lots of hands-on activities.
During our visit, Principal Reva Gluck-Schneider told us that having a strong arts program is "non-negotiable." The schools administrators fervently pursue grants to fund the arts. Thanks to its partnerships with institutions such as the Queens Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museums Learning through Art (LTA) program, PS 144 is able to bring in a number of teaching artists that work with students on a regular basis.
Every grade has an "artist in residence." Fourth graders participate in the Making Books Sing program, which sends teaching artists to the school to lead lessons in acting, playwriting, and songwriting, which culminate in the creation and performance of a play based on a childrens book. Second graders work with artists from the Marquis Studios to design their own puppets and create a puppet show. In addition to the teaching artists, PS 144 also has a full-time visual arts teacher and a theater teacher. After the schools music teacher retired, students get their music lessons from the theater teacher, who plays the guitar, sings and incorporates music into her lessons.
The school also has a full-time science teacher, and arts are integrated into the science curriculum. Students explored the Queens Museum of Arts Watershed Model, a 755-square foot topographical map of NYCs water supply. The study culminated in a visit to the Catskills, where students participated in a scavenger hunt to learn about the watershed and to make collages inspired by their surroundings. As part of Trout in the Classroom, s tudents raised trout from eggs to fingerlings, monitored the tanks water quality, and eventually released them into the watershed.
Students do plenty of hands-on science activities in all grades. One second grade classroom included an in-class composting system and various plants grown by students. In one fifth grade science class, students played a game called Survival of the Sweetest in which students learned about food chains by acting as wild animals competing over scare resources, which were represented by candy. We are simulating how animals would act in the wild, one student explained. Students also receive weekly technology instruction in the computer lab.
During our visit, teachers had clear control of their classrooms. Whether students were taking turns counting by tens, measuring objects around the classroom, or listening to a story read aloud by the teacher, they were engaged and on task.
PS 144 is home to a district-wide Gifted and Talented program, and there is one G&T class in each grade K-5. The school also offers a push-in enrichment program for non-G&T classes so that all students can get the benefits of more challenging, project-based learning. We recognize the gifts in all children, the enrichment program coordinator, Lois Olshan, told us.
There is a high level of parent involvement. Parents are devoted fundraisers and volunteers. Some help out during lunch time, while others are trained as Learning Leaders, which allows them to work one-on-one with students who need extra help. The Parents Association organizes the schools fee-based after-school program. The program runs until 4:45 pm, and students can choose from a variety of programs such as Lego building or gardening. Other extracurricular activities include a popular mathletes program led by a parent. Every Tuesday morning at 7:30 am, about 50 4th and 5th grade students participate in the math club, according to the principal.
Special education: The school offers Integrated co-teaching classes on most grades.
English language learners: The school offers push-in and pull-out ESL services during the school day. There is also a morning program, where English Language Learners can receive extra support before school starts.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. Test for gifted program. (Pauline Zaldonis, June 2013)Read more