PS452 IN THE NEWS!
Stone Soup and Building Community
BY LAURA SCHILLER (a PS452 Parent!)
PUBLISHED NOV 24, 2015 AT 10:51 AM (UPDATED NOV 22, 2015)
P.S. 452 uses a folk tale to bring families together...
If you happened to be walking in the windy rain last week past the William J. O’Shea complex on West 77th Street that houses three schools, you might have caught the aroma of garlic and potatoes and carrots and beans wafting out of the cafeteria window.
But it wasn’t a school lunch crew working overtime. Rather, around 100 families had gathered from P.S. 452 to each add their own ingredients to one big community soup and for a re-telling of the Stone Soup folktale.
The first initiative of the school’s Community Building Committee—whose mission is to organize free, diverse PS452 school community events that bring families and staff together—the evening also included a potluck feast featuring food from many different cultures and homes.
see more at http://www.westsidespirit.com/local-news/20151124/stone-soup-and-building-community
Pro Athletes Visit PS 452! (And Mr. O'Reilly interviewed on the news!)
Mr O'Reilly co-ordinated a great event for 4th grade and K-225 runners!
Our school hosted several professional runners that are in town for the NYC half marathon. They are visiting because of our participation in the Mighty Milers program, and it just so happens that their visit correlated with K-225's physical education period on Thursday.
See a clip of the visit on ABC HERE.
"Principal Invents UWS Elementary School One Year at a Time" Mr Parker is interviewed in the DNA news! By Emily Frost on September 9, 2013
UPPER WEST SIDE — Principal David Scott Parker remembers his first meeting with parents as extremely tense. Parents had just learned that their children would not be attending the coveted P.S. 199 and P.S. 87 and instead would be members of the first class at the newly created elementary school P.S. 452.
Their kindergartners would also have to share a floor with two middle schools in the William O'Shea Complex on West 77th Street.
"[The meeting] was very confrontational," Parker recalled of the May 2010 meeting, held on the same day parents had learned their children wouldn't be attending the other local schools because of overcrowding.
As the school enters its fourth year, which will include its first third-grade class, Parker says he is striving to create a place for 230 students that is "dynamic and engaging and rigorous," and that "isn’t just a place that meets the academic needs but the social and emotional needs."
The Cincinnati native, now in his 40s, has had some interesting twists in his life — from studying art history to working as a director to becoming a teaching fellow and then a school leader.
"I’ll only get out of here kicking and screaming," he joked of his love for the school.
DNAinfo New York caught up with Parker just before the students were set to return to school after summer break.
Q: What's your approach to curriculum?
A: It's very hands-on. The math curriculum relies on an extensive tool kit that kids use. When they’re learning measurement, they go around and use non-traditional tools to measure things — like measuring the couch with their hands. It’s not just concepts on pencil to paper. In second grade, there’s a rock, sand and silt unit. They have all the rocks, the sand, the silt. We let it sit overnight. The next day they’re feeling it, to discover what happened overnight.
Q: And you generally don’t use state-provided curriculum. Tell me about that.
A: Kids don’t have to do that rote learning, or one of the curriculum’s recommended units on the War of 1812 for second grade, or on kings and queens for kindergarten — I would get it if it this was Great Britain — but seriously. [With that curriculum] they might be great at Jeopardy.
In kindergarten, our students study parks [from social studies and life science’s perspectives.] We put the park in context. We visit the park. We’re tapping into that national curiosity and we’re helping them see something like a park in a different way.
It’s this progression — we’re telling them why — there’s a reason why we read and write. We learn to read and write to satisfy our curiosity and exchange ideas, not just for a test or to be good at school.
Q: How do you approach leadership?
A: Leadership doesn’t have to be that 'tough way.' Now we’re seeing that leadership can actually rely on emotional intelligence and it’s more about communication and relationship building. You can’t just tell the kids 'sit down and do your work,' they’re not going to be engaged if you can’t help them figure out why they're doing what they're doing.
Q: You were first a fourth-grade teacher and then an assistant principal at P.S. 199. How does that influence your work here?
A: P.S. 199 is a very inclusive and accepting environment and that was something that appealed to me and  will always kind of be my hometown and where I’m from. [P.S. 452] is now my educational home.
I brought with me that the idea that schools really can become places that feel safe and comfortable, but you know you have to come to the table and come to work. We have to work at this to make it what it is and that’s an idea that has evolved over the time.
I wanted to make it clear to the community that this isn’t 199 junior, or 87 part two. It is the place where I figured things out as an educator.
One of the most important things, to me, is I wanted to create a place where people want to go everyday. It was important to me that the staff feels that and that the students feel that. But with that we have to take that active role. We all have to come to the table with a plan.
I don’t always want to give an answer. It can’t just be Mr. Parker makes all the decisions.
Q: What are the pros and cons of getting to start from scratch with a new school?
A: It’s a gift and a challenge. You don’t have to consider the history when trying to change something, however you do have to consider that you’re making history and setting a precedent with every decision we make. Schools do kind of create these rituals and histories, which are important — but that track can get deeper and deeper and it can be hard to get out of it.
The gift of expanding each year is that it keeps this freshness to it. No year has been the same yet just from the influx of new staff and new families. This year a quarter of our population are new students.
Q: So parents were skeptical about a new school, but three years later how are you doing?
A: The majority of our students are meeting or exceeding the [city] standards.
We just got our [DOE] learning environment survey [completed by parents and teachers.] [We scored] above average in every single category. In three of the four categories we went up.
We just had our quality review that the superintendent did, and for a school that’s developing, we got proficient or well-developed in every category.
[Parents] want guarantees and a warranty. It doesn’t come with that. They took a gamble. The first group really did.
Now we get people calling us from all over the district and even out of the district.
MS LITTLES WINS A BLACKBOARD AWARD!
Congratulations to Ms Brigida Littles (first grade teacher) on her winning a 2013 Blackboard Award for Excellence in Education. We are so very proud of you!
Full interview with Ms Littles in New York Family Magazine below
June 26, 2013New York Family Magazine
Brigida Littles Wins A 2013 Blackboard Award For Teachers
PS 452 Teacher For Grade 1
By Chrissy Makris
What are some of the key joys and challenges of being a first grade teacher?
Some of what I love most about first grade is that it is the year that many children go from learning how to read independently to transitioning into chapter books! Right before your eyes, cryptic figures called letters become legible, developed stories. There were years that I was worried that I would find the curriculum boring, or that the year would feel mundane, but every year I am faced with new children, new challenges, and new loose teeth!
Tell us about any special projects or initiatives you are most proud of this year.
This year, we created a restaurant study, in which children were able to learn about the needs and wants of a community, learn about different families, economics, and—most importantly—the importance of interdependence. By visiting and learning about restaurants, first graders were able to design a menu, cook and prepare the food, and, finally, run a fully functioning restaurant for their families. They then donated 100 percent of the money raised, including their tips, to the Food Bank for children in NYC (foodbanknyc.org).
Over the course of your career, what do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments?
During my first years of teaching, I was a participant in and eventually a facilitator of a math program called Math In the City. This program’s goal is to reconstruct the way teachers think about math, so that they become better teachers of math for their students. This program helps teachers provide opportunities for their students to become true mathematicians by exploring problems and forming solutions. This program primed my philosophy about ways children learn in all content areas.
What drives you and keeps you motivated to continue your hard work as a teacher on a daily basis?
My daily motivation comes from the excited, happy children who enter the school. They literally run in every day, ready for a new day of adventure. I am the mother of two wonderful, very different girls. One of my daughters has graduated from NYC public schools and one is currently attending an NYC public school. My motivation comes from thinking about each student as I do my girls, with an understanding that it is my responsibility to arm them with as many tools as I can to prepare them for whatever the future holds for them.