P.S. 150 Queens
A supportive school with dual language and G&T programs
Some friction between principal and staff
Despite its large size, PS 150 has a sweet and welcoming tone. It has a dual language program for English and Spanish speakers as well as a district-wide gifted and talented program. Teachers seem to do a good job challenging and supporting their students, who seem happy and attentive. Classes for grades 1-6 are in the schools main building. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes are in an annex a few blocks away at 41-12 44th Street.
The school has high expectations for its students, and even pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are assigned homework. Hands-on learning opportunities are incorporated into classes, with 2nd graders creating models of NYC landmarks and kindergarteners taking neighborhood walks around Sunnyside to learn about their environment. During our visit, the schools science fair was in full swing, and the gym was filled with rows of displays presenting student projects, which addressed topics like whether potatoes or lemons could more effectively power a digital clock or how to most effectively remove gum from your hair.
The school provides students many opportunities to celebrate their academic achievements. There are monthly publishing parties where parents are invited to come and read student work, and the school also has literacy and math nights. A math "problem of the month" is on display in the hallway; those who answer it correctly get their work displayed.
Teachers encourage children to write essays in English classes as well as science and math. Math classes focus on word problems and encourage children to understand mathematical concepts as well as memorize basic math facts. Science classes emphasize the model of scientific inquiry in which students form a hypothesis and perform a series of experiments to test it. Students also take art classes, including visual arts, music, and drama.
Teachers at PS 150 do a good job engaging students at different levels, and the schools test scores are above the citywide average. In the G&T program, the work is faster paced and includes more projects. G&T students do math that is a year ahead of their grade level.
The dual language program has both children who speak English at home and children who speak Spanish at home. The goal is for children to be proficient in both languages, and classes are in Spanish one day and English the next. Students in the dual language program put on two shows each year to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and Pan American Day. At these celebrations they perform songs, dances, and skits that celebrate Spanish-speaking cultures.
The student body includes children of new immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia, as well as children of middle-class professionals who live in the townhouses of Sunnyside Community Gardens. Students come from 70 countries and speak 40 languages. Our diversity enhances the school culture greatly, said Assistant Principal Onalis Hernandez, who gave us our tour. The school celebrates its diversity through events like its International Night, a potluck dinner when families bring in food from their cultures.
Students may participate in the math league, chess club, band, chorus, or select chorus. Ballet Tech leads dance classes in the schools auditorium. Students who need extra help may participate in a variety of after-school support programs, including an ESL after-school program and an extended day program that provides students with enrichment and remediation opportunities. Extra help is also offered for selected students through the schools Saturday Academy. Other after-school activities include music classes from the 92nd Street Y, dance classes from Together in Dance, and art activities from Studio in a School.
A downside: there is some friction between the principal and staff. A majority of teachers responding to the Learning Environment Survey said the principal is an ineffective manager and nearly half said they didn't feel supported by her. (They felt they received more support from the assistant principals, according to the survey.) "Some teachers want a greater voice in decision-making," District Superintendent Phil Composto said in the school's Quality Review.
English language learners: The school has a large population of English language learners. Some participate in the dual language program and others are placed in self-contained ESL classes. There is one self-contained ESL class for each grade, K-5.
Special education: The school offers both ICT classes, which have a mix of general education and special needs students with two teachers, and self-contained classes for students with special needs. There are three self-contained classes, one for 4th graders, one for 5th graders, and one for 2nd and 3rd graders. The school also offers Special Education Teacher Support Services, or SETSS.
Admissions: PS 150 is a neighborhood school that accepts students from its zone. Students are admitted to the district-wide G&T program in each grade K-5. To be admitted to the dual language program, students must apply and take a test, and there are about 26-28 spots in the program per grade, half for Spanish-speaking students and half for English-speaking students. (Pauline Zaldonis, April 2013)
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Queens NY 11104