Upper West Side
An avenue-by-avenue guide to the most family-friendly area outside Orlando.
Thu May 15 2008
150 W 105th St, Upper West Side. 212-678-2857. Grades K--5.
What's special: An abundance of bilingual and gifted and talented classes meets the needs of a diverse student population.
Downside: Getting parents involved is a challenge for the principal.
PS 145 is a pleasant surprise, according to a group of parents considering the school for children entering kindergarten. Classrooms are bright and cheery, and children benefit from an art room, a computer room, and a music and gym teacher. The halls are quiet, a reflection of the classrooms; we didn't see any teachers struggling to keep their students under control. The absence of unstructured recess might be a factor behind the school's atmosphere. Students don't just run around aimlessly. Instead, they get exercise in gym class or by taking educational walks through the neighborhood. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
163 W 97th St, Upper West Side. 212-678-2854. Grades K--5.
What's special: Diverse student body, lively faculty, humming classrooms.
Downside: Kindergarten classrooms housed in trailers.
A neighborhood school that serves both gifted children and those with special needs, PS 163 has committed, enthusiastic teachers who are eager to hone their skills and embrace new teaching methods. Kids are engaged in their lessons, and the teaching we saw on our visit was excellent. The building has been renovated, and classrooms have new rugs and furniture. Halls and doors have been painted in "jelly bean colors" of orange, lime, green and pink. The auditorium has been spruced up and the school has a new science lab, new computers, and air conditioning. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
234 W 109th St, Upper West Side. 212-678-2873. Grades K--5.
What's special: Gifted and talented and dual language programs.
Downside: Old, shared building could use more repairs; parents say more safety agents are needed.
Housed in a large, Gothic-revival building, PS 165 offers both gifted and talented classes and an English-Spanish dual language program that enables the many Spanish-speaking children to become literate in their native language while giving a few English-speaking students the chance to learn Spanish as early as kindergarten. The school also offers dual language classes with collaborative team teaching (CTT). These classes have two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education, and a mix of children with special needs and those in general education. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
132 W 89th St, Upper West Side. 212-678-2829. Grades K--5.
What's special: Nicely renovated building with outdoor garden for reading.
Downside: Building is divided by race and class.
PS 166 has in recent years attracted a growing number of upper-middle-class white families—some of whom could afford private school. The upper-middle-class children are concentrated in the two "gifted and talented" classes in each grade. A super-organized PTA has raised a substantial amount of money to pay for full-time classroom assistants in the lower grades, part-time assistants in the upper grades, and a one-day-a-week science teacher, as well as art and music supplies. The PTA raises about $300,000 a year, in part by asking each family to contribute $1,500 a year. Partly as a result of this fundraising, the gifted and talented program has become second only to PS 9 in the number of applicants in the district. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
210 W 61st St, Upper West Side. 212-757-4343. Grades K--5.
What's special: A small intimate atmosphere with resource rich classrooms.
Downside: Future of gifted program in jeopardy.
PS 191 has a lot going for it: enthusiastic teachers; a thoroughly engaging music teacher; partnerships with Studio in a School and Lincoln Center Institute; separate outdoor playgrounds for Pre-K, kindergarten; and older students; and a huge grant from City Councilwoman Gail Brewer to renovate the auditorium . Classes are small, with as few as 15 and never more than 25 children. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
270 W 70th St, Upper West Side. 212-799-1033. Grades K--5.
What's special: Ethic of tolerance toward children with disabilities.
Downside: School's popularity makes it difficult for those outside the neighborhood to get in.
Strong, coherent leadership, a unified staff with a shared vision of education, and an active parent organization have made PS 199 one of the most popular and successful schools in the district. The school is one of the few in the district that's wheelchair accessible, and parents say the presence of handicapped children helps make the school a particularly gentle and tolerant place. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
154 W 93rd St, Upper West Side. 212-222-1450. Grades K--8.
What's special: Unusual level of parent involvement.
Downside: Atmosphere may be too relaxed for some children.
Manhattan School for Children, housed in the former Joan of Arc Junior High School, is a relaxed, laid-back place where kids wear caps backwards and call teachers by their first names. Parents come right to the classroom to drop off their children, and parents are welcome, even in the middle school. A wide corridor serves as a meeting place for parents, kids, and teachers during the day. By the coffee pot, you'll hear two mothers chatting in Spanish, and several fathers planning a winter fund-raising event. Parents of different races seem to feel comfortable together. "Don't look at it as a place you'll be sending your children," parent coordinator Tatiana Hoover tells prospective parents. "Look at it as a community you'll be joining. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
735 West End Ave, Upper West Side. 212-866-5400. Grades K--5.
What's special: Strong dual-language program with small class sizes.
Downside: Dark, gloomy building.
Once a fairly traditional school, PS 75 has evolved in recent years to adopt new teaching methods. The school has introduced the Teachers College Readers and Writers Workshop, which encourages children to write from their own experiences, constantly revising and editing their drafts. Each classroom has its own library, and children have plenty of access to fun-to-read picture books and children's literature. Kids still practice how to form letters on lined paper in workbooks here -not the free-form writing on unlined paper popular at some progressive schools- and there's plenty of emphasis on phonics, spelling, and grammar. Kids learn cursive in 3rd grade. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
32 W 92nd St, Upper West Side. 212-799-2534. Grades K--5.
What's special: Small class size and strong focus on arts.
Downside: More parent involvement needed.
Once known for its pioneering progressive methods and dual-language programs, PS 84 went through some unsettling leadership changes when its longtime principal retired several years ago. In recent years academic results have been disappointing and the internal strife led many of the parents in its Upper West Side neighborhood to seek other district schools or to apply to gifted programs. However, since 2004, the school has embarked on an upward path, by methodically applying the curriculum mandated by the city Department of Education and adding an array of music, dance, and visual arts programs, a change reflected in the school's new name: the Lillian Weber School of the Arts. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
160 W 78th St, Upper West Side. 212-678-2826. Grades K--5.
What's special: Creative teaching and high levels of achievement.
Downside: School lost librarian because of budget cuts.
Long one of the most popular schools on Upper West Side, PS 87 is a progressive neighborhood school that accepts children by lottery from outside its attendance zone. It's easy to see why the school is many parents' first choice: Walk into any classroom and you're likely to find something unique and interesting. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
100 W. 84th St, Upper West Side. 212-678-2812. Grades K--5.
What's special: Good teaching & good art; popular gifted program.
Downside: Each program needs a better mix of race and social class.
PS 9 is a cheery, well-lit school where children's artwork lines the halls. The building houses the Anderson School one of most selective programs for elementary school children in the city; the gifted and talented (G&T) program, for children who score high at least in the 90th percentile on an IQ test; and the "Renaissance" program, which serves as a neighborhood school for children who live in the zone. In 2005, Anderson with about 443 pupils, became its own school with its own principal. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
129 W 67th St, Upper West Side. 212-501-3318. Grades K--8.
What's special: Rigorous musical training based on model developed in former Soviet Union.
Downside: Demanding program is unsuitable for children who lack keen interest in music and discipline to practice.
The Special Music School of America, serving children from all five boroughs, combines regular academic classes with unusually rigorous musical training, including individual lessons from Russian-conservatory trained musicians. Admission is extremely competitive there are typically 350 kindergarten applicants for 15 spaces but the payoff for those who are accepted is great. The school is an unusual public-private partnership designed to offer New York City children the kind of musical training previously found only in the "spetsshkola," or special schools of the former Soviet Union. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
100 West 84th Street, Upper West Side. 212-595-7193. Grades K--8.
What's special: Super bright kids and fast paced academics
Downside: Far more applicants than seats available
Open to children from all five boroughs, the Anderson School is one of the most selective schools in the city. Academics are accelerated, particularly in math, and very bright children have the opportunity to take part in advanced work such as national math competitions. Unlike Hunter College Elementary School, which accepts children only in kindergarten, Anderson accepts older children as well. Read the full review from Insideschools.org
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