PS 9 Naples Street Elementary School
Unzoned school with arts focus, ASD program for students on the autism spectrum
No gym or auditorium
PS 9 Naples Street Elementary School is an unzoned arts-focused school open to students from across Staten Island. The school offers dance, music, visual arts and drama, integrating them into social studies, science, reading and writing. Opened in 2013 with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, at full growth, PS 9 will enroll 300 students in grades pre-k to 5. It also hosts a program for children with autism.
Founder Deanna Marco has 16 years of experience at Brooklyns PS 295 The Studio School of Arts and Culture in Park Slope, where she was principal from 2006 to 2013. After years of teaching off the island, Marco, a Staten Island parent of three young sons, said she was ready to return. There are not many schools on Staten Island that have a focus on the arts," she said. "This one is based on the work I did at PS 295." Marco was honored as an outstanding educator and school leader by Wagner College in 2013.
The art program is still developing as the school grows. We saw kindergartners creating self-portraits and 1st-graders using oil pastels and making collages in response to a lesson about jazz.
Science teacher Jason Eriksonalso known as Mr. Inquirywears a superhero costume to teach kids about science and math. Like Ms. Frizzle in the science-themed Magic School Bus books, he brings science to life, reading and acting out stories to children in recess as well.
The superhero theme is incorporated in math where multiplication tables are called powers. When practicing their times-tables children use their super hero powers of 10 or 12.
There is a strong focus on health and wellness and community activism said the principal. Students grow food in the school garden that is served in the cafeteria and help out with a community food drive, which they share with City Harvest.
PS 9 opened in the PS 48 building when that school expanded and moved across the street to a new building. Some of the hallways in the old building are dark, narrow and uninviting; others are enlivened by artwork and murals of childrens books.
There is no auditorium or gymnasium. In cold weather months students use the cafeteria for recess; on other days they have recess in the playground. A fee-based after-school program offers karate, cheerleading, soccer and musical theatre.
SPECIAL EDUCATION:PS 9 is a host site for an ASD Horizon program for children on the autism spectrum. It also offers speech, counseling, occupational and physical therapy and ICT classes.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery open to Staten Island residents. There were 250 applicants for 36 pre-kindergarten spots in 2015.The school hosts tours once a month. (Giselle Inoa Aquino, February 2015)