Last week I had the chance to visit a great New York City school with a couple of my friends. It was P.S. 247 in Brooklyn. The principal was wonderful to give us not only a tour of the building, but also took the time to explain his thinking behind what made the school so successful.
We picked this school to visit because it was similar to the ones we work with in our district. It has 27 different languages spoken in that one school of about 700 students. There is a 75% free and reduced lunch count. We felt right at home. The thing that startled us was when the principal took us to his office window and showed us another elementary school just three blocks away that has 1,000 students. Yes, it is a neighborhood school. These children all live within three or four blocks of the school. AND, if you went to the other side and looked out, there would be another school with that many students.
We got there early in the morning as the students were walking to school. In fact, after getting off the subway, we were having a hard time finding the school. We finally asked a mother with a little child, "Are you going to P.S. 247?" She said yes and allowed us to follow them to the school. On the walk there, she couldn't stop talking about how great the school was. Many of her children had gone there and she loved it!
The school was build in the depression era and was four stories high. It was built on a small area of land. The funniest thing was when the principal showed us a stairway that led to nowhere...a wall. The original plans were to have a gym there, but there wasn't room when they went to build it. So, the wall!
As we traveled the halls of the building and stepped into various classrooms, we saw great teaching and very engaged children. The expectations for teachers and students are high. The atmosphere was relaxed and happy. The students would greet us with smiles and "Good Morning" as we entered the rooms. They were used to people visiting their rooms.
Next week, I will be blogging about some of the actual things I saw while walking around the school. Great charts and bulletin boards. We can't thank Mr. Ogno and the staff and students at P.S. 247 enough for allowing us to take a peek at the wonderful things that are happening for children at their school!