Tag Archives: School

Grades spur parents’ revolt


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Grades spur parents’ revolt

Armed for the first time with data that rates the effectiveness of more than 12,000 math and reading teachers, parents yesterday said they’ll now take action to steer their kids clear of bad apples. At PS 89 in The Bronx — which had the highest number of teachers who were rated poorly in 2010 — several parents returning to school yesterday after last week’s mid-winter recess said they plan to pull their kids out. Forty-three percent of the Bronxdale school’s teachers were rated below average or worse, while just 7 percent were above average or better, according to the city’s numbers. Read More: New York Post

Thieves out ‘4’ iPhones

It wasn’t just techie nerds who were eagerly awaiting the iPhone 4’s release — sneaky cellphone subway thieves were just as anxious to snag the gadget, NYPD officials said yesterday. The June 2010 release of the iPhone sparked an underground cellphone-swiping frenzy that still hasn’t stopped, said NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox. Cellphone “thefts accelerated in July 2010 coinciding with the release of the pretty popular iPhone 4,” he said at the MTA’s transit committee meeting. In 2011, 47 percent of all property stolen underground involved electronics — up from 39 percent in 2010 and 35 percent in 2009. Read More: New York Post

Two confirmed dead, three injured in Ohio school shooting

An Ohio teen described as an “outcast” was due to appear in court Tuesday after allegedly killing two of his classmates and injuring three others in a fatal shooting at a suburban Cleveland high school. The first victim of the shooting at Chardon High School was Daniel Parmertor, 16, who died Monday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. A second victim, named as 17-year-old Russell King, was pronounced brain dead at 12:42 a.m. at the same hospital, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday. Read More: New York Post

Family Fights To Prevent Deportation Of Jackson Heights Father

Mohammad Anwarul Islam’s family in Jackson Heights, Queens is fighting to keep the husband and father in the country, while he awaits deportation to Bangladesh in a New Jersey jail. His family says Islam immigrated legally but was not granted political asylum. Read More: NY1

Hotel to rise on Skillman Ave in Long Island City


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Courier/Photos

The City University of New York (CUNY) is aiming to check in to the borough’s new hotel hotspot.

CUNY recently sent out a request for proposal (RFP) to hospitality industry consultants, seeking ideas on how to develop its lot on Skillman Avenue in Long Island City nearLaGuardia Community College — with the goal of building a teaching hotel, as well as other academic facilities, for its students.

According to CUNY spokesperson Michael Arena, the facility would be both commercial and educational, with students comprising the staff of a fully-functional hotel.
“The hotel and tourism sector is rapidly growing in New York City. There are many jobs connected to it, and there is a strong need for it,” Arena said. “The idea of students being able to take skills they are learning in the classroom and use them in a professional environment is tremendous. That’s what internships are, but in this case we will have the facility connected to the academic program.”

Arena referenced the positive impact of similar facilities at both Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania as motivation to develop the lot.
Dr. Gail O. Mellow, LaGuardia’s president, also believes the educational opportunities would be vast and highly positive.
“The hotel’s location near LaGuardia would give our students hands-on experience in seeing and helping run a major hotel,” she said. “Students studying accounting, tourism, food and nutrition, marketing and more would have the ability to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. The educational benefits would be outstanding.”

Zoning permits CUNY to use up to 600,000-square-feet of the lot — part of which is currently used for parking – without the trouble of variances.
Thus far, the response from the private sector has been strong.

“There has been a lot of interest in the site,” said Arena. “The response has been very positive. The RFP went out identifying companies that have expertise in the area, and those companies are responding very strongly.”

Rob MacKay, the director of tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), called the project “fantastic news.”

“The hospitality field is very stable in Queens right now, and residents should be able to have solid, long-lasting careers in the industry,” MacKay said. “Furthermore, with the Resorts World Racino, plans for two convention centers, new media interest and TV shows based in borough, I predict that the field will grow exponentially in the near future.”

According to MacKay, city records show more than 7 million visitors spent over $3 billion in Queens in 2010, and the travel sector currently supports roughly 16 percent of the jobs in the borough.

Arena says the decision to develop the plot was based on the premier real estate factor – location.

“It is in a vibrant community close to Manhattan – only a five minute train ride to Times Square,” he said.

Library president pleads guilty to drunk driving


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

[Watch] Queens rape suspect caught on camera

A serial southeast Queens rapist was caught on camera as he attempted his third sexual assault in two months. The video, released today by police, shows the suspect approaching the victim from behind and grabbing her around the neck.  The suspect placed a sharp object to the victim’s back before dragging her behind a house where he attempted to rape her, police say. The incident took place Wednesday, December 7 at 2 a.m. near 154th Street. Read More & Watch the Video: Queens Courier

DOE Releases Second Batch Of School Closures

The Department of Education announced this afternoon the second half of its list of planned school closures. Today’s list includes two elementary, two middle, and three high schools. In addition to the closures, six others will see their middle school grades phased out. They include P.S. 161 The Crown in Brooklyn, Academy For Scholarship And Entrepreneurship in the Bronx, Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School in Brooklyn, P.S. 298 Dr. Betty Shabazz in Brooklyn, Frederick Douglass Academy IV in Brooklyn and Wadleigh Secondary School For The Performing Arts in Manhattan. Read More: NY1

Library president pleads guilty to drunk driving

The president of the New York Public Library pleaded guilty this morning to driving drunk in his library-issued Audi. Judge Jennifer Schecter didn’t exactly throw the book at Marx – under the terms of his plea deal with prosecutors, the first time offender will pay a $500 fine and have his license revoked for six months. He’ll also have to submit to 16 counseling sessions and complete a drunk driving program, and have an ignition interlock device installed in any car he chooses to drive after he gets his license back. Read More: New York Post

Missing ex-FBI agent in hostage video: ‘Help me’

The family of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished years ago in Iran, issued a plea to his kidnappers Friday and, for the first time, released a hostage video they received from his unidentified captors. The video message released on the Levinson family’s website publicly transformed the mysterious disappearance into an international hostage standoff. Despite a lengthy investigation, however, the US government has no evidence of who is holding the 63-year-old father of seven. Read More & Watch the Video: New York Post

Divided Queens Republicans court Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich

The borough’s fractured Republican Party is now divided over who should be the next presidential candidate. City Councilman Eric Ulrich was recently tapped to chair Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign in New York City. Just a few days later, the Queens Republican Party sent out a press release and photo touting a meeting between county chairman Phil Ragusa and Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. Read More: Daily News

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens

Eighteen people were indicted today for their alleged roles in two auto loan fraud schemes that resulted in nearly $2 million in losses, authorities said. Sixteen people have been arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on charges that include grand larceny and possession of stolen property, while two others remain at-large. Twelve of the accused scammers allegedly purchased luxury cars, such as Cadillac Escalades, BMWs and Porsches, between July 2008 and March 2010, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Help for Home Owners

The city is aiming to restore the homeownership hopes of Queens residents hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew Wambua joined Queens elected officials, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the New York Mortgage Coalition on November 15 to announce the commencement of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) Buyer Assistance Program. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Stabbings Take Place Near Manhattan School

Sources say two teenagers were wounded during an attempted robbery of a jacket near P.S. 153 in Hamilton Heights in Manhattan this afternoon. NY1 has learned one was wounded in the stomach and the other was wounded in the hand. Both were taken to the hospital. Police are looking for two suspects, one male and one female. Read More: NY1

Man Who Funded Terror Plotter To Be Sentenced Today

The man who admitted to illegally transferring money to fund the attempted Times Square bombing is being sentenced in federal court today. Mohammad Younis plead guilty in August to giving Faisal Shahzad $7,000 from Pakistan through an illegal money transfer business. Weeks after Younis gave him the money, Shahzad tried to explode a car bomb in the middle of Times Square last year. Shahzad was caught fleeing the country, later pleaded guilty and is now serving life in prison. Younis faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Read More: NY1

Bronx Man Charged With Murder Of East Harlem College Student

Police have made an arrest in connection with the death of a Manhattan woman. Bakary Camara, a 41-year-old Bronx resident was charged with the murder of 36-year-old Rita Morelli. The Italian college student’s body was found last Wednesday in an apartment on East 120th Street in East Harlem with cuts to her neck. Morelli left her hometown in Italy five years ago to pursue a career in design. Read More: NY1

Baby in trash in upper Manhattan was killed; young mom charged with “self-abortion” 

The young mother of a dead female fetus found in the trash in upper Manhattan has been charged with self-abortion, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday. Yaribely Almonte, 20, wrapped the fetus in plastic and dumped the girl in a bin outside her building on W. 191st. St., near Wadsworth Ave. A man sorting recyclables discovered the child’s lifeless body Tuesday, and Almonte was charged Wednesday night. Under state law, a woman can be charged with self-abortion if the fetus is older than 24 weeks. Read More: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/16/2011: Queens woman describes ‘rape & set-up’ horror


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Suspect arrested for George Gibbons’ hit-and-run

Only two days after Maspeth residents rallied demanding “Justice for George,” the suspect wanted in connection with the hit-and-run that killed George Gibbons was apprehended in Connecticut, according to police. Peter Rodriguez was taken into custody in Connecticut by the Regional Fugitive Task Force one month to the day after the accident.  The suspect was identified by police on October 25. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Queens woman describes ‘rape & set-up’ horror

A Queens woman at the center of an alleged diabolical plot to discredit her rape allegations told jurors yesterday about the horrific attack and the sick scheme to cover it up. Restaurant owner Seemona Sumasar testified that she spent seven months in jail away from her daughter after her ex-lover, Jerry Ramrattan, roped three cohorts into filing trumped-up theft charges against her. Read More: New York Post

Two Queens men charged with robbery for diversion theft in New Jersey

Two Queens men have been charged with robbery in connection with a “diversion theft” outside a hotel in Lyndhurst, New Jersey in which a woman was run over after her bags were stolen, authorities said. Jesus Ortiz, also known as “Edgar Melo,” 38, of Corona, and Hector Ruiz, 34, of Jackson Heights, were being held in New York City on Tuesday on unrelated charges, pending their extradition to New Jersey, authorities said. Read More: North Jersey.com

 

L Train Attack Caught On Video, Cops Looking For Suspects

Police in Queens are hunting for three suspects they say are wanted for a vicious assault on a subway train that was captured on video. The video was recorded just after 2 a.m. on Nov. 8. It shows an argument between two men on a Queens bound L train that quickly escalated into a savage beating. Read More & Watch the Video: CBS News

 

Parents And Students Rally To Save Queens School

Parents and students at PS 181Q in Queens are speaking out to save it from closure after it was placed on the city’s list of struggling schools. Watch the Video: NY1

 

Northwestern Queens still struggling with recession, reports state Controller Tom DiNapoli 

The state’s top auditor released a gloomy economic forecast for northwestern Queens. The neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights are still struggling with lost jobs and lower wages after the recession, according to an extensive report compiled by state Controller Tom DiNapoli. Read More: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/04/2011: Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti

Four swastikas showed up on the walls of the Jackson Heights branch of the Queens Library Thursday. At least one more was painted on the library branch in East Elmhurst, and another was etched on the door of a synagogue on 88th Street. Police believe the incidents in three separate locations are related. They are being investigated by the hate crimes taskforce. Local leaders plan to hold a news conference Friday to denounce this kind of hateful vandalism. Read More: NY1

 

‘Fresh Meadows Rules’ Facebook group unites former residents from around the world in Queens

More than 150 former Fresh Meadows residents reunited last week to celebrate the planned neighborhood many remember as a small utopia tucked away in Queens. The gathering, organized through a Facebook group called Fresh Meadows Rules, brought residents from all over the country and even overseas back to Queens to meet up with childhood pals and revisit local landmarks. Read More: Daily News

 

Melanie Webb, Long Island City woman, pleads guilty to shooting slay of her sister,Tara, on victim’s birthday

A Long Island City woman pleaded guilty Thursday to fatally shooting her sister on the victim’s 27th birthday.Melanie Webb, 25, also shot Tara Webb’s boyfriend, Terrell Carmichael, on March 26 in the Long Island City apartment they all shared, she admitted. A source close to the case said Webb shot her sister Tara in her bed and turned her gun on Carmichael, hitting him twice in the torso in the shower. Read More: Daily News

 

Queens high school students to help upstate NY rebuild after Hurricane Irene ravaged homes and businesses

Students at a Bellerose high school will soon get a lesson in what it means to build stronger communities — one nail at a time. The Habitat for Humanity club at the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences is raising money and supplies for a trip to upstate New York to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Irene. The group plans to partner with a yet to-be-determined Binghamton high school by the end of the year. It also plans to donate cleaning and school supplies. Read More: Daily News

 

FEMA extends deadline for Hurricane Irene victims

There’s a ray of hope for those affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in August. On Oct. 31, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a deadline extension for individuals seeking disaster assistance. The new FEMA registration deadline is Dec. 15. Read More: Staten Island Live

Astoria school feted for fighting hunger


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Thirteen hundred pounds of food can go a long way towards easing the suffering of poverty-stricken people.

In an effort to aid those less fortunate, P.S. 17 has held an annual food drive for the past seven years, during which students have collected and donated thousands of pounds of food to their community.

In 2010, P.S. 17 held two food drives and gathered over half a ton of food.

In recognition of their work, the elementary school, located at 28-37 29th Street in Astoria, earned National School of Distinction status from the School’s Fight Hunger program, an initiative focused on uniting schools across the country to combat hunger.

“It is an honor to be recognized, but we do it from our hearts without expecting anything in return,” said Constantina Pilios, the organizer of the food drives and the parent coordinator at P.S. 17. “We hold these drives because they teach the children lifelong lessons and show them how to practice good values, and it’s also satisfying helping someone else who is starving and in need of food. As a community, it is our responsibility to look out for one another.”

National School of Distinction status, which is an honor fewer than 2,000 schools across the country achieved this year, is awarded to schools that exhibit an exceptional effort in battling hunger.

Other activities that may warrant the award are volunteering at pantries and cultivating a garden to donate freshly-grown food.

“The students, staff and families of our School of Distinction schools should be very proud of their efforts and the impact they’re making on the hunger cause,” said Tim Sullivan, the founder of Schools Fight Hunger, which is in its second year of operation. “Of course, the short-term results are impressive, but we also love to see how our next generation of leaders is getting active in their communities at such a young age. In a day when so much news about our kids and our schools seems so negative, these schools and these students are well worth celebrating.”

Roosevelt Island may go high-tech


| rcasiano@queenscourier.com

Queens elected officials voiced their support for the city’s plans to bring a new hi-tech science campus to nearby Roosevelt Island.

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney spoke in Long Island City with community leaders in support of the city site as the best place to house the new campuses for Cornell or Stanford University – two schools the city is considering giving $100 million in aid to, as well as free land, in an effort to lure them.

“An applied sciences and engineering facility on Roosevelt Island offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spur western Queens’ transformation into a world-class hub of technology and entrepreneurship and to generate significant long-term job growth for the borough,” said Maloney at the press conference on October 17.

The school’s expansion to New York City is a part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to attract a major applied science and engineering university to the area to boost the local economy and bring much needed jobs and more hard sciences to the city. The subsidies will include $100 million for infrastructure and a free city-owned site for the proposed new facility of the university.

Roosevelt Island is the latest location being considered against Governor’s Island and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Community leaders argued Queens would also be a boon to the new university campus, citing its location and diversity as essential assets.

“Queens has the transportation, land and community to support the growth of the university,” said Jukay Hsu, founder of the non-profit Coalition for Queens.

Final bids from the schools are due October 28.

DOE cuts leave their mark


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

For Gary Haberski, reporting for his six-hour shift each weekday at Bayside High School was not only a delight, but his daily workout.

“I used to walk to school every day since I only live two miles away,” said Haberski, 62, of Whitestone, one of 700 Department of Education (DOE) employees let go recently. “I would go back tomorrow if I could.”

With the largest number of layoffs at one time in the city during the Bloomberg Administration, teacher aides and support staff have officially been cut in an effort to save $35 million, according to DOE officials.

This is the second time Haberski has been laid off by the DOE, last time spending 11-months on a recall list. Although prepared with a letter explaining a possible lay-off in September, the pink slip letter that came on October 7 prompted him to call all of his elected officials in outrage.

“The first time, I was upset and depressed,” said Haberski, a lifelong Queens resident. “Now, I’m just mad.”

School aides and support staff have many roles in schools including monitoring hallways, creating a more secure environment, observing during SAT and other test taking as well as other functions. It’s those day-to-day interactions with students that he misses the most.

“You establish relationships with the kids. You see them every day and learn what they want to do with their lives. I miss all that,” said Haberski.

Since being put back on the recall list, Haberski has filed for unemployment and is currently looking into food stamps as a money-saving option. He was one of three aides to be laid-off at Bayside High School, each of them in their 60s as well.

“We are hoping they are going to call us back quicker,” said Haberski. “There are not many jobs out there to begin with, especially for a 62 year old. It’s a waiting game.”

The decision to make cuts occurred as a result of failed negotiations between DC 37, the city’s largest municipal public employee union, and the DOE. DC 37 believes the cuts will affect lower income areas the most.

P.S. 159 consistently got an ‘A’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan. Class 3-313 posed with Principal DiDio and Assistant Principal Andrew Pecorella.

The unwavering commitment toward consistency paid off for newly-minted Blue Ribbon school P.S. 159.

The Bayside 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.

In fact, the school has received an “A” on every state exam for the last four years.

“I’ve been here for 15 years. For a school to do well, perform well, have high performing students for any length of time is a great feat,” said Assistant Principal Andrew Pecorella.

The award couldn’t have come at a better time for Principal Paul DiDio, who took over the post only two months ago. DiDio said former principal Marlene Zucker — who retired after 20 years — deserves due credit.

“If you don’t have a good leader, you don’t have a good school,” he said. “She set the bar high, but I’m very happy to have landed in this school. It’s been a really great ride so far.”

DiDio and Pecorella said the award could not have been achieved without the joint efforts between good teachers, an active parent population, students and the community.

“We take a very holistic approach. You don’t win an award like this without a joint effort,” Pecorella said. “We view this school as a family. We’re all working together toward the same goals — improving students’ academic performance and making sure they grow emotionally and socially.”

And more hard work is still to come.

“My goal as a first year principal is to continue the success of the school. I hope to have another ‘A’ at the end of the year, keep with what’s been positive here and keep leading the school down the right path,” DiDio said. “We just need to continue our success and build upon it.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 10/18/2011: Queens law student to be freed by Egypt


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

1. Roosevelt Island eyed for new hi-tech Cornell & Stanford campus

Cornell and Stanford universities are looking for an area to create their new applied sciences and engineering campus. Officials for both Cornell and Stanford universities said they favored Roosevelt Island over the other two sites being considered for the new campus (Governors Island and Brooklyn Navy Yard). Read More: Daily News

 

2. Israeli citizen gets jail in NY tax case

Boris Michaelov, owner and operator of Lefferts Auto Sales in Elmhurst, will spend six months in jail for evading over $2 million in sales taxes. Michaelov agreed to make full restitution and pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted grand larceny. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

3. Queens law student to be freed by Egypt

Ilan Grapel, an American law student from Queens who also has Israeli citizenship, was arrested in Egypt in June and charged with spying for Israel. Grapel was arrested in Egypt while working for a non-profit organization helping refugees. Egypt is holding Grapel until another prisoner exchange brokered between Hamas and Israel goes through. Read More: New York Times

 

4. Fire closes Lenny’s Pizzeria in Howard Beach

Flames engulfed a popular pizzeria in Howard Beach early Monday morning. Firefighters in Battalion 39 responded to the one-alarm fire at Lenny’s Pizzeria on 164-02 Cross Bay Boulevard before 8 a.m. on October 17. Fire officials reported damages throughout the store and to the front. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, no injuries have been reported. Read More: Queens Courier

 

5. Taste of Sunnyside 2 event starts today

The Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) are joining forces to throw the 2nd Annual Taste of Sunnyside! This is the best way to sample all of the neighborhood restaurants at a minimal cost of $25 per person. Taste of Sunnyside 2 will be held at the Sunnyside Community Services ground floor Ballroom, 43-31 39th Street, just off Queens Boulevard. Read More: Taste of Sunnyside

Bayside’s P.S. 159 scores Blue Ribbon


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The unwavering commitment toward consistency paid off for newly-minted Blue Ribbon school P.S. 159.

The Bayside 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.

In fact, the school has received an “A” on every state exam for the last four years.

“I’ve been here for 15 years. For a school to do well, perform well, have high performing students for any length of time is a great feat,” said Assistant Principal Andrew Pecorella.

The award couldn’t have come at a better time for Principal Paul DiDio, who took over the post only two months ago. DiDio said former principal Marlene Zucker — who retired after 20 years — deserves due credit.

“If you don’t have a good leader, you don’t have a good school,” he said. “She set the bar high, but I’m very happy to have landed in this school. It’s been a really great ride so far.”

DiDio and Pecorella said the award could not have been achieved without the joint efforts between good teachers, an active parent population, students and the community.

“We take a very holistic approach. You don’t win an award like this without a joint effort,” Pecorella said. “We view this school as a family. We’re all working together toward the same goals — improving students’ academic performance and making sure they grow emotionally and socially.”

And more hard work is still to come.

“My goal as a first year principal is to continue the success of the school. I hope to have another ‘A’ at the end of the year, keep with what’s been positive here and keep leading the school down the right path,” DiDio said. “We just need to continue our success and build upon it.”

Back to school drive collects 4,000 items


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is “driving” the students of I.S. 125 towards success.

The councilmember joined parents, faculty and students at the school, located at 46-02 47th Avenue in Woodside, on October 5 to donate supplies gathered from his 2nd annual Back to School Supply Drive.

The drive received over 4,000 items, all donated by members of the community. Supplies were collected at Van Bramer’s office and at five libraries throughout his district. Among the donated items were book bags, writing materials and rulers.

The drive supports a number of local schools in the councilmember’s district, and his next donation delivery will be to P.S. 166 in Dutch Kills.

“I am so proud to live in a community where everyone chips in and does their part to better their surroundings and enhance the lives of all of our children,” said Van Bramer. “I would like to thank all of those who donated to the drive. You have helped these students receive the tools they need to succeed. This is an effort I was happy to begin last year, and look forward to continuing every year.”

P.S. 130 is committed to learning


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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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

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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.”