Growing Up Green I Charter Elementary School

Grades: K-5
Staff Pick
39-37 28th Street
Long Island City NY 11101
Phone: 347-642-4306

Our Insights

What’s Special

A progressive, hands-on approach to learning with an environmental theme

The Downside

Two sites one-half mile apart

With a greenhouse, a chicken coop, plants in the classrooms and an egg-laying duck named Walter, this charter school offers kids the chance to "grow up green," as its name suggests. Kids sail on a schooner at South Street Seaport to learn about the history of exploration, build shelters in Central Park to learn how Native Americans lived, or visit the Queens Botanical Garden to study "Trees and Me."

"We probably go on more field trips than any other school in the city," said founding principal Matthew Greenberg, who blends the progressive practices honed at Manhattan School for Children and Bank Street with lessons in building community he learned at a Catholic school, where he also taught.

This charter school, opened in 2009, is meeting its mission so well that it's being cloned, with a new school of the same name opening in 2016. Greenberg was tapped to be executive director of both.

Students here are assertive and eager to defend their positions. One class discussed writing a persuasive essay to the mayor and a judge urging them to reconsider the reversal of the ban on Styrofoam lunch trays. Citing research, one girl pointed out both sides of the issue.

The elementary school, housed in a former Catholic school building has an old wing, complete with old-fashioned cloak rooms, and a brighter newer wing. Every inch of space is used. There is no library, so the corridors, some rather dimly lit, house the school's books, including those used for Read-180, a program for struggling readers. Twelve staff members share the main office, and special education guidance providers are in side-by-side small cubicles off the multi-purpose gym. Fortunately many staff members have been around since the school's inception and seem to get along well. Several bring their own children to the school and, as of 2016, it is written into the school charter that staff children get priority in admissions, in the same way that siblings do.

Class size is about 28 per classroom in the elementary school, but with at least two teachers in each classroom, it seems manageable. There are 24 students per class at the growing middle school.The middle school, located about a half mile away at36-49 11th Street,opened with a 6th grade in 2014 in a space formerly used as a pre-kindergarten. It is still being refitted for adolescents. There is a small outdoor yard, with some picnic tables and basketball hoops but no gymnasium. It is a long walk from the nearest subway train too.

The green theme continues, encompassing not only recycling and the environment, but also community service. Every morning begins with an advisory, teaching organizational skills and addressing social-emotional issues.

There is a Regents track class in math and science, and some students take algebra and the Earth science Regents. Sixth-grade English students, were doing a poetry slam about "where I come from"; 7th-graders were tackling Shakespeare and reading "Macbeth," learning how Shakespeare's language differs from today's vernacular. Music students finishing a unit on Martin Luther King, Jr., learned freedom and protest songs and were asked to create a song or poem of their own.

About 75 percent of the elementary students stay for middle school; other popular choices are the Baccalaureate School for Global Education, Young Women's Leadership School and Hunter's Point Community Middle School. Members of first graduating class of 8th graders in 2017 were accepted to a wide range of high schools including Stuyvesant, Frank Sinatra, Beacon, Townsend Harris and LaGuardia.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is an ICT class on every grade, SETSS, and services such as speech and occupational therapy, as well as lots of supports within classrooms.

ADMISSIONS: District 30 lottery; priority to siblings and children of staff members. In 2015 there were 1,600 applicants for 125 spots school-wide. Growing Up Green accepts students on every grade level, as spaces open up. (Pamela Wheaton, January 2016; updated March 2017 with high school admissions information)

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2019-20 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
79% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
50% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
81% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
0% Citywide Average
Teacher turnover rate
36% Citywide Average

How do students perform academically?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
51% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
49% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
70% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
66% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
23% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
25% Citywide Average

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
28% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
23% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
28% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
17% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Long Island City (District 30)
Trains: 7 Line to Queensboro Plaza; E Line, M Line, R Line to Queens Plaza; N Line, W Line to 39th Ave; F Line to 21st St-Queensbridge
Buses: B62, Q32, Q39, Q60, Q66, Q67, Q69, Q100, Q101, Q102, Q103


Jennifer Slutak/Aris Colgan

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?

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