The Robert F. Wagner Jr. School (P.S./I.S. 78)
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Innovative programs take advantage of school's waterfront location
No gym or auditorium
PS 78 is a neighborhood elementary school situated on the first two floors of the CityLights apartment complex in the rapidly developing Hunters Point neighborhood. Students at PS 78 get the chance to participate in lots of artistic activities and group projects. Teachers use the nearby East River as an extension of the classroom, and students learn about the river through a variety of activities like maintaining their own oyster bed.
Students do lots of hands-on projects and go on many field trips as part of the schools Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Students spend the last two periods of every Friday working in small groups to develop projects. Principal Louis Pavone says that these hands-on projects and field trips are a way to engage students and to get them excited about learning. Pavone, who has been at the school since 2006, gets high marks from teachers, according to the Learning Environment Survey, and in 2012, he was named a Cahn Fellow, an honor given to outstanding principals.
Science, social studies, and the arts are taught in every grade, in addition to reading, writing and math. In ELA classes, students read independently and in small groups. In the daily Writing Workshops, they are encouraged to write about their own experiences. Starting in 3rd grade, students write essays, realistic fiction, poetry and memoirs. The school uses the progressive Everyday Math curriculum used in most of the citys schools. Students in all grades receive science instruction. Science lessons tend to be hands-on, and students study topics ranging from simple machines to plant diversity. The schools garden and waterfront location provide opportunities for science lessons outside the classroom.
There are many musical and artistic activities for students in all grades. Students in kindergarten and 1st grade receive music instruction through the Music and the Brain program. Starting in 2nd grade, music classes use the Little Kids Rock curriculum, which teaches students to play guitar, keyboard, and drums through the Suzuki method of violin instruction. Outside of music class, students may also choose to participate in the school chorus, the ukulele band or musical drama afterschool. Students in all grade levels also receive arts instruction, and the school brings in artists-in-residence to lead activities with children in grades 3-5. Students create cumulative art journals and portfolios to show their growth as learners.
Students needing extra help are given additional support during the day and after school through the schools extended day program which meets four days a week and allows students to work in small groups based on their level of ability.
Due to overcrowding, space is a challenge for PS 78. There is no gymnasium or auditorium, and the school must use the lunchroom for large group activities, art instruction, physical education and meetings. In the 2012-2013 school year, there was a waitlist for zoned students. As the Hunters Point neighborhood continues to develop, parents worry that overcrowding at PS 78 will continue, according to DNAinfo.
English language learners: ELLs receive extra support from the ESL teacher who works with them during their regular classes.
Special education: There are no self-contained classes at PS 78. There is one team teaching class in each grade, in which two teachers work with a mix of children with special needs and those in general education.
Admissions: Neighborhood school. There is usually a waitlist for zoned students. (Pauline Zaldonis, web reports, June 2013)Read more