P.S. 195 William Haberle
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Family-friendly school with lots of technology
Low enrollment, test scores are low
PS 195 The Magnet Academy for Multimedia Arts and STEM, in the southeast Queens neighborhood of Rosedale, is a family-friendly school with an emphasis on the use of technology and multimedia in all its classes.
Students are always making something at PS 195. They investigate a topic for an extended period of time and design a project that makes use of technology. For example, during a science unit about extreme weather and natural disasters, first graders used the school’s green room to film public service announcements about different types of extreme weather, and they used the school’s Mac computer lab to do research and edit the clips they filmed.
In writing, fourth graders create storyboards digitally. Across grades, students use software and applications like Photoshop and iMovie, as well as the iWork range of office software like Keynote. Classrooms are equipped with smart boards, Apple computers and tablets. Maker spaces are being introduced in all the classrooms, making it easier for students and teachers to work on arts projects across disciplines.
The school’s teachers are all experienced veterans and as one administrator pointed out, “our teachers don’t leave unless they retire.” The teachers have a good working relationship with the administration, according to school surveys. They have adopted the changes to curriculum brought about by a 2016 magnet awarded by the education department, taking advantage of the new equipment, technology, new certifications and trainings. Almost all teachers would recommend the school to other families, on school surveys.
In addition to in-class projects, students and families have a wide range of programming of all types available to them. The Saturday coding academy teaches children coding and robotics, with different projects for different grade levels. On STEM challenge days, parents are invited into classes to work on projects with their children. The school was hosting a Poetry Slam for the lower grades on the day of our visit.
Pre-K students take Music and Movement classes five days a week. Fourth and fifth graders receive instrumental instruction 2 to 3 times per week and take their instruments home to practice.
The tone at the school is warm and inviting. Walking into the building there are collages of past students, photos of children and parents at different events held at the school, and parents chatting with each other and administrators. There is an active PTA and parent community, and multiple administrators said they would love to see even more parent involvement. Parent and student concerns are taken seriously by the administration, like renovations for bathrooms, which were made recently due to student suggestions.
Principal Beryl Bailey takes into consideration the needs of children and their families by keeping an open-door policy to hear their concerns.
The school administration has made a point to recognize the heritages of its student body. The school organizes trips to Washington D.C., and students have gone to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Martin Luther King memorial. The administration makes a conscious effort to work on culturally and racially responsive lessons as part of their diversity efforts. The administration has also been partnering with other schools in the district to try and share best practices and addressing issues of race and equity.
The school still has quite a way to go in terms of raising test scores and its enrollment has been steadily dropping over the last few years. There is a Success Academy Charter school and a K-8 school within a 10-block radius. The hope is that the magnet program will help attract more families to PS 195. The school is nevertheless a clean, safe, inviting space for parents and students with a tight knit community of families and educators.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has four self-contained classes and five team-teaching classes that mix children with special needs into general education classrooms with two teachers.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school (Melanie Quiroz, June 2018)