Archive for the tag 'elementary schools'

electeds and principals ps11 national blue ribbon school awards
Sheepshead Bay’s PS 254 (Dag Hammarskjold) and Clinton Hill’s PS 11 (Purvis J. Behan) schools’ 2014 National Blue Ribbon School Award wins were honored on November 20 with a ceremony at Brooklyn Borough Hall. School principals Alonta Wrighton (bottom left) and Linda Alhonote (bottom right), as well as Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, and Council members Laurie Cumbo, Chaim Deutsch, and Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm were all in attendance at the event to celebrate two outstanding Brooklyn learning institutions.

“[I]t is my privilege to celebrate this success,” Councilmember Deutsch, whose district covers PS 254, told the crowd. “Together they are an example of excellence and I commend Principal Alhonote and Principal Wrighton, as well as the staff and students for exemplifying a quality that can be upheld as a model for others.”

“The academic excellence of [these schools] is a direct reflection of our community’s unwavering commitment to… the success of our administrators, faculty, parents, but most importantly our students,” Councilmember Cumbo said at the ceremony, during which students from the chosen schools performed. “The designation of these two institutions as the 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools… recognizes the hard work of the staff, the dedication of the parents, and the strong leadership of [these ] Principals… it is important that we continue to support our schools and inspire the future leaders of our city, state, and nation.”

Principals Wrighton and Alhonote each received special citations at the event, and PS 11 and 254 were presented with New York City Council Proclamations.

Congratulations again to all the students, faculty, and other supporters of this year’s Blue Ribbon schools, and keep up the good work!

Photo courtesy Councilmember Laurie Cumbo

A classroom at PS 254 (Source: Schools.nyc.gov)

A classroom at PS 254 (Source: Schools.nyc.gov)

Congratulations are in order! Sheepshead Bay’s PS 254 Dag Hammarskjold Elementary School is one of only 337 schools in the country and two schools in Brooklyn to have received a 2014 Blue Ribbon School award.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors outstanding public and private elementary, middle, and high schools each year based on their general academic achievement as well as their success in closing achievement gaps among subgroups of students. This year, PS 254 at 1801 Avenue Y received an award in the “Exemplary High Performing Schools” category–an honor in which Clinton Hill’s PS 11 can also revel.

All of 2014’s winning schools will be presented with a National Blue Ribbon School plaque and flag, and will be honored at ceremonies–where educators are invited to discuss their methods and ideas for continued academic excellence–on November 10 and 11 in Washington, DC.

“You, the 2014 National Blue Ribbon award winners, are absolutely a national treasure,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a congratulatory message. “[I]t’s a great, great privilege to celebrate your success. Thank you for what you do every single day to foster the curiosity, and persistence, and the joy of learning for our nation’s children.”

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement. (Source: Adams’ office)

Several local schools are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars each for repairs, upgrades and improvements as part of a $3.1 million allocation by Borough President Eric Adams to education institutions across the borough.

The beep today unveiled 16 school-related capital projects that will benefit from the allocation, which was packed into the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

“If you look around Downtown Brooklyn, something new is rising up every day and this is an exciting time for the borough and this area, as education and schools represent the vibrant energies of what’s coming up at this time,” said Borough President Adams. “This budget spans the far reaches of the borough; from Metrotech to Midwood and from Bed-Stuy to Bath Beach, we are leaving no school behind. Our goal is education, education, and education.”

The allocations are largely for technology upgrades, although some schools are receiving it for more general improvements.

Schools in our area are slated to receive the following:

  • $350,000 to James Madison High School for upgrades to the school’s library and media centers;
  • $225,000 for improvements to the library at Sheepshead Bay High School;
  • $200,000 for classroom technology purchases at Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281;
  • $100,000 for classroom technology purchases at P.S. 169;

Local elected officials joined Adams during the announcement this morning to celebrate the funding.

“School libraries and media centers are essential to the success of today’s high school students,” said Assemblymember Helene Weinstein. “I thank Brooklyn Borough President Adams for this funding, which will enhance these services at Sheepshead and James Madison High Schools, and allow students to reach even greater heights.”

“Investing in education is the best investment we can make for the future of our state and country,” said Assemblymember William Colton. “These capital improvements will help bring much-needed technological advancements to our local Brooklyn schools that will better our children. This $200,000 capital grant for I.S. 281 will allow for the school to make technology improvements, including by purchasing smartboards and computer laptops, that will benefit our students by enhancing their learning experience, and provide valuable resources for our educators.”

school classroom by Dan Nguyen

A new, more inclusionary approach to educate NYC students with special needs is proving easier said than done, says a new report by Chalkbeat. The organization spoke to students, parents, and school officials and found that schools are struggling to implement mandatory reforms to special education, while its effect on students is still unproven.

Integrating special needs students by enrolling them in general education classes, mixed classes (including typical and special needs students), or a combination of the two, was an idea first publicly introduced in 2003 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The proposal was launched as a pilot at a limited number of city schools in 2010, and launched citywide in 2012. Chalkbeat, though, found that some schools lacked the resources and the scramble to implementation is leaving some of the neediest students behind.

Students affected by this Special Education Reform and interviewed by Chalkbeat each had unique experiences, some positive, some not. They include Joseph, a middle schooler with ADHD who was placed in mixed classes as per the city’s new policies, and for whom no purely special education classes were available when attempts to mainstream proved unsuccessful; Noah, whose mother Britt Sady pushed for his inclusion in a general education class so as to set higher standards for his learning and increase his chances of graduation; Christon Solomon, a middle schooler who says small learning sessions in special education classes work better for him than general education; and Thomas, who was suspended often in special education classes, but is doing better since being introduced to mainstream and mixed classes.

The experiences of parents and kids profiled are diverse, as are the abilities of the schools discussed to see that students’ needs are met–often, says Chalkbeat, schools simply aren’t provided with adequate staffing or financial resources to abide by the 2012 reforms. This is the case with Joseph–whose transfer to another school was finally approved only near the end of the school year, and presumably because his mother Clara, who works for the Department of Education, came armed with a certain amount of knowledge regarding red tape.

“Sometimes, if the parent doesn’t question [a school's inadequate handling of a special needs child's education], it just goes under the radar,” family advocate Olga Vazquez, of mental illness and developmental disability service support agency ICL, told the publication.

Certain schools are benefitting from reforms more than others. The article says funding is disproportionately doled out to schools with integrated classrooms instead of simply general and special education ones, and parents of both typical and special needs students at Harlem’s P.S. 112, for example, have requested mixed classes to enhance their kids’ educational experiences.

However the jury is still out, quantitatively speaking, on the effectiveness of integrating kids of different abilities into the same classrooms. Chalkbeat says some test scores have increased marginally, but others have not. What does appear to be clear is a widening discrepancy in disciplinary action being handed down to special needs students in mainstream classrooms, but DOE Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi says Chancellor Carmen Fariña has no plans to overhaul the 2012 reforms.

If you’re an New York City educator or parent, what’s your take on the matter? Have you run into any of the problems stated in Chalkbeat’s article, or seen students improve under new policies? Should properly run mixed classrooms benefit all students–and what would running them properly entail of schools, teachers, and the DOE? How would funding and resources be distributed if you had it your way?

Photo by Dan Nguyen

Colgan (Source: P.S. 254)

Colgan (Source: P.S. 254)

Teachers, students and faculty gathered in the cafeteria of P.S. 254 (1801 Avenue Y) yesterday to honor the passing of a longtime school aide by renaming the facility Mary Colgan cafe in her memory.

Colgan served 43 years in the New York City school system, first at P.S. 52 on Nostrand Avenue, and then at P.S. 254, where she stayed for more than 33 years. She passed away from cancer on September 21, 2013.

The beloved school aide was born May 13, 1935, and grew up with a large family of 11 brothers and sisters. She married Ronald Colgan in 1955, and had two children, Donna and Ronald, who she raised in Sheepshead Bay. In addition to her six grandchildren, Colgan found herself with an even larger extended family – that of the entire P.S. 254 community – which grieved her passing.

The Tuesday ceremony featured student performances in her honor, while colleagues, students and her family shared recollections. In addition to renaming the cafeteria, the school is launching the “Mary Colgan – You Have to Believe Award,” which will be given to a student leader who fosters a positive attitude.

Here’s the statement from the school:

Mary Colgan’s NYCDOE Start of Employment was January 1, 1970 at PS 52, and then start of employment in our school, PS 254 was September 8, 1980. She worked in our school for over 33 years. She devoted a great amount of her life to providing the BEST opportunities to students in our school community. From ensuring a safe morning arrival, supervising breakfast being served, requesting busing for school/class trips, monitoring student daily attendance, to calculating after school snacks, calling parents, distributing/receiving/organizing important legal school documents to directing an Extra Curricular After-school program for the Greater Sheepshead Bay; she did it all and then some!

Mary Colgan’s face, spirited voice, and her passionate work mostly took place in our school cafeteria each day. She ensured the safety of our students who arrived early on the school bus, that those students who needed to eat breakfast, did so, timely and that they had enough recess-time before morning line-up at 8am.

Mary was an active, outspoken member of several school committees such as: the SLT, Safety/BRT, Attendance and subcommittee member for various school Performances, such as a Ticket Agent/Distributor and Collector, Ice Cream Purchaser and School Trip Coordinator. She also believed in the importance of UNITY. She diligently represented and supported school DC37 Union members as their Shop Steward. These are just few titles and duties Mary Colgan upheld to the best of her ability however, she did WAY MORE than just maintain these responsibilities.

Mary added joy and sometimes a sprinkle of humor to the school’s Main Office as she sat at her desk situated at the very front counter. She welcomed concerned parents, visitors of many titles; from Mom, Dad, Sibling or Relative to Superintendent, District Representative, Salesperson, Prospective Educator, Substitute or Teaching Observers completing their Educational Prep Courses. Mary was the First Impression of the Heart of our school. She demonstrated the general pulse of the school without hesitation as guests arrived. She always remembered that she herself was a Mother, Sister, Aunt, Grandmother, and Wife and therefore treated our guests as if they were a member of this school family. She never hesitated to help ANYONE or to give a SWEET TREAT to someone in our school community.

Her passion was for the child who needed it the most. Whether their needs included: nurturing, daily structure, routine, a commanding voice, a soft voice with a Grandma-like hug telling them that they are special, a coat, supplies, or some extra food; Mary gave it to them! At times she may have said “I don’t care!” The reality is, she DID care and sometimes she cared so much that she was frustrated with the limited outcomes or results she saw in short time periods. She ALWAYS gave to those special students that may have been looked at as needing a little more than the norm because they held a special place in her heart as she did in theirs!!!!

Mary rarely missed work unless she had to go shopping for more matching JETS or METS apparel to wear on T-Shirt Tuesday. However, on a more serious note, Mary worked through her colds, coughs and illnesses. She truly LOVED coming to our school each and every day. She was frustrated and saddened when she took ill and just couldn’t beat the discomfort she was in. Each day, she attempted to continue to walk the 12 blocks to and from home to get to work. She finally gave in and accepted car rides from her colleagues at least on the days of inclement weather. Mary fought through and made her impact on all of us in our school community, all the way up to the very last day of the 2012-13 School Year.

When we think of Mary Colgan… we think of a STRONG-MINDED, PASSIONATE WOMAN, who was a DEDICATED, ORGANIZED, HARD WORKER, with PRIDE and CONFIDENCE. She was a SPORTS FAN, DAILY NEWS Reader, SMOKER, LOUD & OUTSPOKEN, TELL-YOU-LIKE-SHE-SEES-IT kind of woman. She was SELFLESS and GENEROUS, THOUGHTFUL, THOROUGHLY ENCOURAGING, SUPPORTIVE and truly a GREAT FRIEND! We were very fortunate to have had her in our school community for such a long period of time.

Mary Colgan is and will always be missed at PS 254 but she will remain in our hearts and memories.

Source: Weinstein's office

Source: Weinstein’s office

The following is an unaltered press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Thanks to Assemblywoman Weinstein, Students at P.S. 52 learning about the Holocaust and World War II during the month of May, heard personal stories of survival from local Holocaust survivors.

Contrasted with school Holocaust curriculums, the program brought members of New York Association of Holocaust Survivors to present first-person and intimate portraits of the adversities they had to overcome in order to survive. Students had plenty of questions for their guests – most, decorated Russian War Veterans – and were shocked to learn that the survivors had been close to their age when they suffered the described hardships and losses.

“There is little doubt that we are getting dangerously close to a time when we will be unable to hear these stories from the individuals who experienced them,” said Assemblywoman Weinstein. “These students need to hear these heartbreaking accounts of survival in the face of baseless hatred and violence so we can make good on our promise to ‘Never Forget’. I will continue to work with the NYS Association of Holocaust Survivors to bring this crucial program to other area schools.”

cih-student-art

Associate Executive Director Robert Cooper speaks with one of the student artists.

Fifth-grade students from Manhattan Beach’s P.S. 95 (131 Irwin Street) today donated a dozen framed watercolor works they painted to Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway), and they will soon hang in patient areas to help lift patients’ spirits.

The works were produced by the students in Mr. William Lawson’s art class as part of a project called “The Art of Giving,” an annual program coordinated by the United Federation of Teachers to connect elementary school art classes with local hospitals.

cih-student-art3

Student artists pose for a photo with Cooper and teacher William Lawson.

The Art of Giving, now in its fifth year, was inspired by the late Sharon Coates, a teacher at P.S. 156.While Coates was hospitalized, she was presented with student art.

“Seeing the children’s artwork on the walls lifted my spirits,” Coates later said, according to UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford, who was Coates’ union representative at the time. Alford later launched the program and continues to oversee it.

cih-student-art2

A hospital staffer heaps praise on one of the student artists.

While at the hospital for the unveiling ceremony today, the students were treated to cookies and juice – as well as showered with gratitude from hospital staff including Associate Executive Director Robert Cooper and Chief Nurse Terry Mancher.

Mancher in particular was rigorously interrogated by the students, some of whom said they’d like to be doctors or nurses. She told them of the tremendously rewarding experiences she’s had, explained the difference between medical school and nursing school and clarified that, no, doctors are not bosses to the nurses.

She also talked about the vital role Coney Island Hospital nurses played during Superstorm Sandy, when much of the staff stayed on-site even as power in the facility failed, and how they assisted in the evacuation after the storm.

P.S. 255 (Source: Google Maps)

P.S. 255 (Source: Google Maps)

A report of a suspicious device or package on the third floor of P.S. 255 (1866 East 17th Street) spurred police and school administrators to take extra precautions yesterday, evacuating their building and that of Cunningham Junior High School next door.

The evacuation took place at approximately 10:45 a.m., as a large presence from the NYPD arrived on scene – including bomb squad units.

Tipster Mike G. wrote to Sheepshead Bites that kids were taken several blocks away. Adding to the chaos, the school had brought in additional teachers for the day. He writes:

all kids outside three blocks away. Today they brought in teachers from other zones/districts to check tests. As soon as they walked in this morning, the alarm went off and a ton of cops showed up.

Police searched the school but did not find any suspicious device, reports News12.

Students were back in their classrooms by noon.

UPDATE (1:50 p.m.): A parent of a student at P.S. 255 sent us a copy of the note sent home with kids yesterday:

parentnote

Click to enlarge

weinstein

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has been visiting schools to publicize the expansion of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program and the April 23rd enrollment deadline.

The Assemblywoman fought strongly for the expansion, with $300 million in the recently enacted 2014-15 State Budget potentially allowing for all NYC children turning 4 in 2014 with free Pre-K education if enrolled in time. Half day and full day programs will be available at Public schools and Community based organizations.

The Assemblywoman read to students enrolled in the UPK program at PS 197. The administration and teachers at the school voiced excitement about the expansion.

“Studies are showing how vital Pre-K education is for the healthy growth of a child as they head on to Kindergarten and primary school,” said PS 197 Principal Rosemarie Nicoletti. “The expansion of this program will help us reach so many more children and I thank Assemblywoman Weinstein for her continued commitment to serving the needs of her youngest constituents.”

“As successful as we were in Albany in securing this funding, the real success of this program will depend on how many children enroll,” said the Assemblywoman. “I urge parents of eligible children to apply before we hit the deadline on April 23rd.”

Parents can enroll online or by calling or visiting the Brooklyn enrollment center at 131 Livingston Street (718-935-4908). The office will be open from 8 am – 7 pm on the following dates: April 8 – 9, April 15 – 16, and April 22 – 23.

The public is invited to attend Community Education Council District 21’s (CEC 21) meeting today, January 15, at 7:00 p.m. at I.S. 98 Bay Academy, 1401 Emmons Avenue.

In addition to the public comment session, there will be a presentation by Change the Stakes, a group of parents and educators who are concerned with the effects high stakes-testing has on children and schools.

To learn more about CEC 21, call (718) 333-3885, email cec21@schools.nyc.gov, or visit CEC 21 on the web or on Facebook.

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