Tag Archives: David Thomas

P.S. 130 is committed to learning


| mchan@queenscourier.com

doc4e93126ab2a8f342119068

Spirits are still sky-high for kids at P.S. 130, even a month after the school was given the federal government’s prestigious Blue Ribbon award.

The Bayside early childhood school was honored for being a high performing school on September 15. According to David Thomas, spokesperson for the United States Department of Education, the school received the award for consistently performing at high levels on New York State assessments in both reading and mathematics. The school’s most recent assessment test scores place it amongst the highest in the nation.

But the work’s not over yet.

“It’s an awesome responsibility, but you never stop learning and you never stop growing,” said Principal Michelle Contratti. “There’s always room for improvement. We need to continue to believe that and not become complacent in our success. We need to honor it and continue to think of ways to improve.”

According to Contratti and Assistant Principal Laurie Careddu, the award could not have been achieved without the joint efforts of teachers, parents and students. The combination — and constant conversation between them — creates the perfect recipe for success.

“I have an incredibly talented group of teachers. They consider themselves lifelong learners and they constantly push themselves to stay on top of the latest and most progressive techniques for teaching,” Contratti said. “We also have an incredibly supportive parent population who come to the meetings, learn about what children can do, take part and interest in their learning at home and assist them. And we also have students who really care and want to do their best.”

School officials said they’re proud to have created an environment where the students are not afraid to voice their thoughts.

“A lot of times, they’ll be very honest with their opinions. They’re very comfortable. They’re free to explore and question and I think that’s part of what makes us a national Blue Ribbon school,” Careddu said.

It may also have something to do with their dedication to the arts, she said.

The school has partnered with Lincoln Center Institute for almost 15 years in its ongoing efforts to keep musical, dance, dramatic and visual arts alive in schools — especially during a time of challenging budget cuts.

“Especially in an early childhood school, we see its importance and we have incredible belief in what it does for students,” Contratti said. “We see children whose second language is English — or children who are very shy — really come alive and celebrate themselves in a very confident way through the arts. It’s a means of expression, especially at this age, that’s the most important for children.”

During the 12-lesson unit of study, a teaching artist from the institute works with the students and teachers in order to produce a professional performance at the end of both fall and spring.

“The kids love it and that’s something that really draws in the parents,” Contratti said.

When the school’s senior third-graders graduate, the ultimate goal, according to Contratti and Carredu, is for them to leave feeling comfortable and confident with themselves and their abilities.

Carredu said they’ve been successful so far.

“Even when we run into other administrators at meetings, they always say, ‘We enjoy having your children come to us. We always know a child from P.S. 130.’”

Secrets to success at P.S. 173


| mchan@queenscourier.com

doc4e8a339c03640721232001

Newly-minted Blue Ribbon school P.S. 173 follows through on its mantra of growing future leaders.

The Fresh Meadows elementary school was honored for being a high performing school on September 15, earning itself the federal government’s prestigious Blue Ribbon award and a brand new banner across the school.

According to David Thomas, spokesperson for the United States Department of Education, the school received the award for consistently performing at high levels on New York State assessments in both reading and mathematics. The school’s most recent assessment test scores place it amongst the highest in the nation.
“We don’t know what the exact formula is for success,” said PTA president Stephen Chow. “It’s a combination of the staff and the parental support. Everything that has been done here so far has really worked out to get us the award.”

According to Principal Molly Wang, the formula for success lies in the investment of several long-term school programs, including extracurricular ballroom dancing and drama programs that take place during and after school. But the school takes greater pride in its professional development and dual-language program.

Through the professional development program — now in its fifth year — teachers collaborate with the Columbia University Teachers College, where an on-site literacy staff works with them throughout the year. The program enables teachers to evaluate and revise classroom practices as they may become outdated.

“In the last four years, the kids have done exceptionally well in assessment testing. I believe the teachers are strong in their knowledge and in the delivery of instruction,” Wang said.

Wang also said the teachers are very committed, working passed the afternoon dismissal and often coming in before the sun rises.

“That’s the kind of dedication that they have,” she said. “I think that says it all.”

Additionally, over 11 percent of the school’s population comprises of students who are learning English as a second language, and a majority of them mainly speak Chinese. The school’s English-Mandarin language program gives these students a better chance at understanding the material, while exposing other students to a new language.

“Research has shown that students are able to grasp the concepts more if it’s taught to them in their native language and then followed up in English,” said Jeannette Miranda, fourth-grade dual-language English teacher. “They just have a better understanding of the things that we’re teaching them in both English and in Chinese.”

The goal of the program was to expose the kids to another culture, which Wang hopes will help her little ones out when they grow up and choose a career.

Now in its fourth year, the program has extended to grades one through four.

“Learning a lot of languages is really fun because if you travel the world, you don’t have to open up a giant, heavy book to look up words,” said Jonah, an eight-year old who is currently learning Chinese, English and Hebrew. “I can communicate with people who are new here. I can become a guide for people who come from other countries.”