Another successful school year is coming to an end! Reflecting on the past school year makes us realize how fortunate we are at P.S. 131. Our school has been successful due to the wonderful collaborative partnership between students, staff members, and parents. We must recognize our students for their perseverance, hard work, and effort displayed throughout the school year.
On May 17th, P.S.131 will hold the last Parent Teacher Conference of the year. These conferences will take place from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Staff members from each grade and content area will provide three different information sessions. The different sessions will allow you to attend presentations for different grades. During these conferences teachers of your child’s next grade level will present expectations for the 2017-2018 school year. These meetings will provide you with information about different routines, procedures, and curriculums for the upcoming school year. The presentations will also include helpful tips and suggestions for summer activities that will promote student learning.
During the next two months, staff and students are busy with teaching and learning, assessments, and exciting events. Please see the calendar of events in this newsletter for specific times and dates that pertain to your child’s grade level. Students in grades 3-5 will take the NYS Common Core Mathematics Exam May 2nd – May 4th. Students in grade 4 will take the NYS Science Performance Test between May 24th and June 2nd. The grade 4 NYS Science Written Test will be Monday, June 5th. The Dance Festival will be held on June 9, 2017. The 5th grade Graduation Ceremony will be held on Friday, June 23rd at Jamaica High School. Wednesday, June 28th is the last day of school for students, which is an early dismissal day. Dismissal is at 11:20 a.m.
Please enjoy the change of pace that the summer brings. Have a happy, relaxing, and safe summer with your children. We look forward to seeing everyone upon our return for the 2017-2018 school year. Have a wonderful and relaxing summer and we will see you again on Thursday, September 7, 2017.
Lastly, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the principal of the Abigail Adams School for the second year now. If my staff or I can be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to assist you and your child.
Mrs. Veronica DePaolo
Important Dates to Remember!
May 2, 3, 4 – NYS Mathematics Exam for grades 3, 4, 5
May 8, 9, 10, 12 – Smile NY (Dentist Visit)
May 12 – PTA Mother’s Day Sale
May 15 – PTA Meeting 5:30pm/Student of the Month at 6:00pm
May 17 – Parent/Teacher Conference* (Evening)
*Expectations for your child next year
May 17 – Science Fair for grades 3, 4 and 5
May 23 – Spring Concert (4th and 5th Grade Chorus)
May 24-June 2 – Grade 4 State Science Performance Test
May 24 – Grade 5 Senior Trip
May 29 – No School – Memorial Day
June 5 – Grade 4 State Science Exam – Written
June 8 – No School – Anniversary Day (Chancellor’s Staff Development Day for Teachers)
June 9 – Dance Festival – All Grades – Rain date- June 19
June 12 – No School for Students (Chancellor’s Clerical Day)
June 19 – PTA Meeting 5:30 pm/Student of the Month at 6:00pm
June 20 – Grade 5 Awards Night at P.S. 131 at 5:00pm
June 23 – Grade 5 Graduation at Jamaica High School
June 26 – No School – Eid al-Fitr
June 28 – Last Day of School – Dismissal 11:20am – Report Cards Distributed
Sept 7 – First Day of School!
PS 131 is a beloved "melting pot" of a school in Jamaica Hills where new immigrants from China, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan mingle with South Americans and a declining black and white population. Although many students speak a language other than English at home, there are numerous adults to help them, and the principal hires coaches and mentors so teachers can become even stronger in their practice.
This safe school is "well-developed" according to the Department of Education's Quality Review, the highest rating a school can receive. There are SMART boards in classrooms, the science lab has been updated, and new English speakers may use the computer lab for extra practice with reading and writing. Six specially trained teachers also work with small groups of English language learners (ELLs) outside of class, and assist them in their regular classrooms. As a result, about 80 percent of the ELL students test out of the program within three years.
Academics start early and on our visit we found the instruction to be on the traditional side, with teachers standing up front leading lessons, rather than kids working in groups, although that is beginning to change. For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, kindergarten teachers are trying out 40-minute "centers," during which kids learn through play. Dress-up corners, language games and block building has been helpful in sparking conversation among kids new to the English language, remarked one of the teachers.
Teachers receive ongoing help from trainers at Teachers College, a well-respected think-tank for writing instruction. Teachers also read books together to discuss how to be better at their craft, such as Thinking Through Quality Questioning, and they share their findings with parents. Parent volunteers offer homework help in a child's native language. Children visit one of three science teachers once or twice a week.
Randolph Ford has been principal since 2003. Gentle and courteous, he takes the time to greet each child, and each staff member, not excluding custodial, cafeteria and secretarial staff. "The kids love him," said a teacher.
Student teachers from St. John's University and Queens College provide extra help and the best are recruited after graduation. Queens College graduate Veronica DePaolo quickly rose through the ranks to become an assistant principal, even successfully filling in for the principal for four months when he was on leave in 2010.
There is no gymnasium. The very dedicated physical education teacher makes do with exercises in a small foyer on bad weather days. She's creative within these limitations, incorporating math and language lessons into jumping jacks and sit-ups. There is no art room, but the school has an association with Midori and Friends, a music program, and 4th- and 5th-graders may sing in the chorus. The school produces an annual musical, a dance festival and other special events.
Fifth grade is held in cramped portables in the schoolyard. An expansion to the building, including a gymnasium and pre-k classrooms, has a completion date of 2018.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Team-taught classes mix children with special needs and their general education peers in one room. A self-contained "bridge" class mixes two or three grade levels together in one classroom in the upper grades.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. The school is overcrowded and usually has a waitlist for kindergartners who live in the zone. A handful of kids are sent to another school for kindergarten but have the option to come back in 1st grade and almost all do. (Lydie Raschka, May 2015)