P.S. 452 opened last fall in order to alleviate overcrowding at P.S. 87 and P.S. 199. Both Upper West Side schools had waiting lists. Located in the M.S. 44 building on West 77th Street, the school currently has three kindergarten classes. Eventually, the school will go from kindergarten through 5th grade.
Principal D. Scott Parker jumped at the chance to start a school from the beginning. He was an assistant principal and, before that, a 4th-grade teacher at P.S. 199.
"The opportunity to lead a new school doesn't happen that often and this is the first new school on the Upper West Side I can remember," said Parker. "It was a really unique opportunity to create something brand new that is engaging for the little kids."
Some parents were disappointed at first that their children could not attend P.S. 87 or P.S. 199, but this year has been off to a good start. Eight kindergarteners who had been waitlisted at the other schools were offered spots at the beginning of the fall. All but one stayed, according to Parker.
"We had bad press before we even started. It is not easy to be the new kid on the block, so it is especially great for us to be considered new and noteworthy," said Parker.
P.S. 452 employs an integrated approach to the curriculum across disciplines.
"We integrate reading and writing and science and use a unit-based approach," said Parker. "For example, during a science unit on trees, teachers will also use trees in reading and writing and art."
The school also employs a social-emotional program with psychologists. For kindergarteners, this involves learning to empathize and to recognize their own emotions. The program will continue to grow as the school does.
"This year has been very exciting and receiving a Blackboard Award is very encouraging to the community," said Parker.
— By Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke