It is my opinion that 321 is overrated. The school is too crowded and the staff can be dismissive to some parents. They could also do a better job with students who learn differently. The parent voice can be very vocal, but once again it is those who are vocal who hold power and they are not interested in other voices.
Yes, it's huge. But the reason why is that the teachers are amazing. My son started in Pre-K and is now in 4th grade, and every teacher has been distinctly different and absolutely wonderful. We could have chosen a citywide gifted school starting in kindergarten and chose to send our son here instead. No regrets. He's happy, creative, thriving, and made the highest scores possible on the third-grade NY test. Thank you, Liz Phillips, Ms. Merris, Mr. Bill, Beth, Mr. Chris and Ms. Rosenblum!
My son's school is focused on learning. They understand children learn in many different ways. I, however, chose not to send my oldest child here as I do not believe they do a very good job with children on the spectrum. This might change as there is a new vice principal. It's tool ate for my oldest now. While this school is good for saavy children who can negotiate a school of 1400 children, It is not good for children who need smaller classes and a calm environment.
Having recently moved to the area from out of state, a good school was a top priority and a good public school was even better as so many of us have doubts about our education system but know that we were raised with a good public education. Well, my son has been at PS 321 for several months now and I only have top praise for his teacher (even his substitutes), the principal, and the high participation of the parents. The school offers much more than my son's previous good public school and I believe it is because of the caring leadership of the principal and the involvement of the parents. Any issues that get just a few parents' attention (like mandatory testing) are soon to become well discussed issues for everyone to have their say. The parents can have a significant impact on what goes on at the school. I know that my son is safe, getting a good education, able to expand his mind in areas he did not have access to before, and he is part of a great student body. I now understand why people move to Park Slope for the schools and PS 321 is a shining example.
This is an extraordinary school with excellent leadership, incredible teachers and great PTA. My first daughter graduated from this school and got into one of the most prestigious gifted and talented middle school in Manhattan. The teachers she had were experienced, competent and nurturing. Her 5th grade teacher made the transition from elementary school to middle school so smooth and seamless. She even emailed her previous 5th grade students on the first day of middle school to with them the best. This is the school that my first daughter wants to go back and say hello to her teachers and staff. Also, my second daughter is currently 2nd grade and she's been here since pre-K. She also has nothing but wonderful experience with teachers, staff and friends. They also offer excellent after school programs and promotes art and music.
I also have to say that the admin. staff along with some of the other faculty are just downright awful. My registration process was the worst here than the other 3 schools in different states. They belittle, act like they couldn't care less about your child, show that they REALLY couldn't care less about you or your concerns. I cannot believe that they allow people, who are the first a parent will ever come in contact with, to be as rude as they are. I am supposed to put my children in the hands of these people? I love my kids' teachers, fortunately. The problem is you just never know what kind of people you'll be dealing with here. It prevents me from being as involved as I normally would be. My kids go here this year, but I don't think that it was worth it. My kids could go to another great school with much better staff, esp. admin. I really tried to make excuses with the whole, "they're the gatekeepers" thing about admin, etc, but at the end of the day, they are a part -big or small- of my child's education and are supposed to be the ones I go to concerning my children. They fail every time. I hope the principal or someone at the head fixes this major problem. ESPECIALLY ADMIN
I cannot believe how rude the admin staff are here. I have had several dealings with the general admin staff during the kindergarten application process and every time I get off the phone I feel completely dejected. I have been spoken down to, told I am not telling the truth and reprimanded. 321 I just crossed you off my list, I can't deal with 5 years of that treatment.
This is a great school. The teachers are intelligent, caring and energetic. The principal is good leader and forward thinking. The parents community is very involved and supportive. My only complaint is overcrowding but the quality of teaching more than makes up for this.
This school does great . . . with kids who fit its predetermined methods. However, if you don't fit, it's your issue. The administration strongly supports teachers--great, till you get a problematic teacher. Our daughter's K teacher cared about lesson plans more than about the kids. My daughter and many other kids were miserable. The teacher did not want to hear it--her brittle defensiveness drowned out chance for actual discussion. The vice-principal we met with was memorably unhelpful and unreceptive to our concerns, and treated us with blatant suspicion, though multiple families communicated same issues. To the school's credit, they went to observe the classroom--but they kept telling us things were fine, our kid was fine...when she was dreading school each day, suffering, and saying so. The school did a LOT of explaining why things were done in certain ways, and made NO changes to help kids who withered under this teacher. I support teachers, too--but not those who make kids miserable. Our kid's G1 teacher was warm and attentive--we loved her, but she didn't differentiate much, said she couldn't, so our kid didn't get the learning she needed. Ultimately we chose to leave 321.
We have a fifth grader who is sad to be graduating out of this great school. Our second grader says she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. They have both had fantastic, dedicated teachers supported by an excellent principal and staff. The level of parent involvement is amazing. The school sets its own curriculum due to very high test scores, and the principal makes it clear that the the idea is effective learning, not teaching to the test. If you are fortunate enough to live in the zone there is a good chance you will be happy with 321.