If you're a parent of wee ones, perhaps fretting the jump from pampers to pre-school, do yourself a big favor. The Q's been through it all before, and he's got some knowledge to drop on you that might just make your life a lot less complicated, and soothe your soul in the process. Here's a tip.
Go check out Jackie Robinson, for any grade, but pre-k is for sure, as it's the soft-landing you might need in order to enroll within walking distanceuy. Yours truly met the new principal a couple years back when she was brand spanking new - Schwanna Ellman - and I was super impressed by her vision and goals. 375 wasn't always top of mind for local parents - and frankly, for good reason. I'm not going to dog the old principal and assistant, but having some insider info definitely steered me and Mrs. Q away. If you check out online resources, you'll often see outdated comments and reviews. And in the case of PS375, that's a real shame. No school should suffer a bad rep from old news.
A couple weeks back the Q put on his nursery school mittens and visited a good friend, a pre-K and special education teacher who's been at the school long enough to experience the change from one administration to the next. Marie and her co-teacher welcomed me into their warm and colorful classroom at recess. And all the good vibes that the FlatBeds have had with pre-K, at both PS705 and PS38, came flooding back. Pre-K in the NYC public schools is magic. That's no exaggeration. It's about fun and love and snacks. It's about letters and numbers and "stations" and songs on the rug. It's about first friends and playdates and learning how to be one among many, a peer, a team
In Pre-K, you get two teachers for just 18 kids. And if you're lucky enough to get an Integrated Co-Teaching class (ICT), you'll get up to 4 teachers. And PS375 excels at ICT. Perhaps you've heard of the Children's School down Gowanus Way? It's an excellent elementary, made up entirely of mixed special and general ed. And lest your vision of Special Ed be tainted by the short bus jokes of your childhood, it actually means learners who need some sort of support. And since that support comes free by law, you get extra specialized teachers in the classroom. In my second-graders class that means an extra loving and qualified professional all day every day. My daughter loves her so much and vice-versa. And the "special" kid is delightful too. Consider asking for such a class.
From the picture you can see that for recess the kids simply step out the door into their own playground, often with support from paraprofessionals and parent or grandparent volunteers. Each of the children I met on my visit was wide-eyed and adorable, checking out the big guy with a bit of trepidation but lots of curiosity. I instantly felt that burst of joy that only 4-year olds can tap. Once that age passes the innocence can remain, but at 4 it's the real McCoy.
And that's why I want to encourage you to go to the next Open House for Pre-K at Jackie Robinson. And it's happening December 12 at 9:30 AM. That's right, coming right up. Many of us are zoned for PS375. We all need to embrace our local schools, in whatever way we can. When David Eppley helped the Q make the Flatbush Trees project come alive, he brought in older kids from Jackie to create the flowers. This is a school that should feel every bit a part of the neighborhood as Peppa's or Prospect Park. Oh, and being so close to the Park, Zoo, Garden and Museum means so many options for walking field trips.
If you have questions about schools generally you know where to find me. I know I have like to have silly fun with blog posts and I like to take the hot air of people, places and things. But to me, there is no more serious business than making sure our schools reflect our neighborhoods. Like my good friends at Live Here Learn Here, whom you should feel free to contact, the time is now to make sure all kids in NYC learn together. There is no downside, and everything to gain.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.