P.S. 122 Mamie Fay
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Creative academics in warm and welcoming school
Cafeteria lacks a full service kitchen
A large neighborhood school with a sought-after gifted and talented program, PS 122 has a sweet, welcoming tone, strong arts programs, and a focus on civic awareness. In every class we visited, teachers seemed to engage children in interesting projects.
Students take classes in music, dance, and visual arts. On our visit, 5th graders practiced ballroom dancing to prepare for a citywide competition. In a music class, students worked in small groups to learn to play Big Yellow Taxi on the ukulele by ear. Students in grades K-3 participate in the schools orchestra through a partnership with the Little Orchestra Society.
The school emphasizes the importance of reading and writing in all classes. Students read independently, in small groups, and as a whole class, and beginning in kindergarten, they write and revise multiple drafts of a variety of writing styles for different subjects. Thanks to a partnership with the Teachers and Writers Collaborative, students get to work with a poet each year to create their own anthology of poetry.
Near the last stop on the N train in a quiet and residential section of Astoria, PS 122 has two gyms, a library, an art room with a kiln, and a garden. It has a new school yard, a playground, track, and tennis courts. Unfortunately, the school lacks a full service kitchen; school meals are prepared off site and heated in warming ovens before being served in the cafeteria.
The school has long been home to The Academy, a very successful middle school program open to children from gifted classes at PS 85, PS 122, PS 166 and PS 150. Standards are high, and students are given lots of challenging work. At the Academy, 6th graders take the equivalent of a year and a half of math and science; 7th graders learn algebra, and by 8th graders take the Regents Algebra exam. Standards are high, and students are given lots of challenging work. "This school is not for everyone," said Principal Pamela Sabel. "It's very rigorous."
In the past, most non-G&T students attended their zoned middle school, with some attending private and religious schools as well as selective public schools including The Academy. PS 122's G&T students attend The Academy; nearly all Academy graduates attend specialized high schools or selective schools such as Townsend Harris, Bard Early College in Manhattan, and Cardozo.
Middle school students grapple with real world issues in their schoolwork. Every year they participate in the Center for Civic Educations Project Citizen program, which promotes engagement with policy issues through research projects. Past projects have included researching the health effects from cars idling in front of the school building and the honey bee colony collapse disorder. The projects engage children in real and meaningful issues and show them that they can make a difference, explained Sabel.
Extracurricular activities are offered through the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, which allows PS 122 to offer fee-based afterschool activities such as chess, debate, and sports for all grades.
Special education: The school offers Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS), Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes, and self-contained classes for students with special needs. There is a special education resource room where students can get individual and small group attention.In grades K-2 there are self-contained ELL classes. In the upper elementary classes, ELLs are integrated into the general education classroom and receive extra support as needed from the ESL teacher.
Admissions: Zoned elementary school. Admissions for the district G&T program begins in kindergarten, and admittance is based on the citywide assessment process. For The Academy, seats are filled in grade 6 from schools in District 30, including PS 122 and PS 150, with remaining seats filled through the competitive selection process based on a combination of factors that make up a "composite score"the final 4th grade report card counts for 35 percent, state tests 35 percent, student performance indicators 20 percent and attendance ten percent. Students in the elementary G&T program at PS 122 may continue on to The Academy. (Pauline Zaldonis, February 2013; admissions updated January 2015)Read more