P.S. 35 The Clove Valley School
Share this school
Intimate, close-knit school with an old-fashioned feel.
Cramped facilities mean no dedicated rooms for science or special education service providers.
PS 35 The Clove Valley School is one of the highest performing schools on Staten Island even though there is little homework and few tests. It is nestled in leafy, upscale Grymes Hill, on a street with neat brick homes and tidy front lawns, at the edge of Wagner College Campus.
Many parents of current students attended this neighborhood school, as did their cousins, siblings and some of their parents before them.
The school earned a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award in 2016. It was graded "well developed" on the city's "quality review," the highest rating a school can receive.
Children are not tested in class as often as at some schools during the year, yet standardized state test scores are above the citywide average in reading and math. A few months before the test, about 50 children in grades 3 to 5 prepare for the test after school in two-hour blocks instead of during regular school hours.
Principal Melissa Garofalo took the helm in 2007. She is a former reading teacher and literacy coach who holds a master's degree from Teacher's College, Columbia University. [Photo of Garofalo with students from the US Dept. of Ed.National Blue Ribbon Schools Program page]
Parent coordinator Margaret Feminella said the principal frequently observes classes and joins discussions. "There's always a lot of group work going on in the classroom," she added.
One of Garofalo's initiatives has been small class size in the early grades. She has also created a departmentalized focus for 4th and 5th grade students, who change classrooms for different subjects, much as they will once they enter middle school. This allows teachers to specialize in one subject such as math or reading.
Garofalo advocates minimal homework. "There is really not a lot of research that says homework leads to academic success in elementary schools," she told the Staten Island Advance.
"We really want kids to be kids," she added. "Research shows kids who eat dinner with their families and actually talk and have conversations do perform better. They learn better when they discuss and can engage in conversation."
With only 15 classrooms and one multi-purpose room serving as the gym, cafeteria, and auditorium, instruction happens in every corner. A few closets have been converted to mini offices. The schoolyard is undergoing renovation and the heating system is getting an upgrade.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Team-teaching classrooms mix students with disabilities in classroom with typically developing kids so they can all learn from each other.
ADMISSIONS: PS 35 is a neighborhood school. After graduation, most students attend middle school at IS 27 and IS 61 on Staten Island. (Lydie Raschka, news report, school data, March 2017Read more