This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Ps 163 Alfred E Smith5
Posted November 05, 2014
- a parent
This is my 9th year as a parent at 163. My 4th child is in 1st grade. My two older kids, who are now at PPAS & Beacon, went through the G&T DL. When the principal, now retired, decided to get rid of the G&T part of the DL, I was very supportive. My two younger kids are in that program now. I love our DL. We have a very active parent body who work closely with the principal and other district leaders. All of my kids speak Spanish and are culturally literate. We have what must be some of the very best teachers in the district (I don't know since we've never been anywhere else). Our school has had its ups and downs, but we always seem to work our way through it. We are one of the most diverse schools in D3 and wrestle with the issues inherent in that. But we address them and deal with them as a community. My two older kids received a unique education and reaped the benefits of it (yes, including easy As in Spanish through middle school). The same will be true for my two younger kids.
PS 163 is not only an excellent school for it's top-notch teachers, but for the tremendous diversity of its student body, which is unto itself an invaluable education. It is also the only school in the district and perhaps the borough with long-standing and successful tracks in both dual language and g&t. The Dual Language Spanish program has long been among the strongest in the borough, and is now effectively aligning to the Common Core, with Principal Lopez rising swiftly to the challenge. It will return to two classes per grade and welcome students from outside the zone, starting with the incoming kindergarten class in 2015/16. This will further enhance both the DL program and the whole school on many levels. Interested families should contact the Parent Coordinator, and apply early (in January).
The school is truly an amazing experience for students, thanks to the diversity of population, the evidence of collaboration among teachers, and the staff in general that make this experience for students as rich and unique. Yes, there is a new principal and everyone is learning to adapt and communicate. The building next door won't take forever, and parents and staff are fighting to make sure there is little disturbance in the children's life. The diversity of programs allow students to be open-minded towards other cultures. Teachers and staff in general work harder than anyone I know. Students have access to clubs, which open new interests into their life and enable them to work collaboratively with students from other programs. The teachers are truly amazing. They care for the students as they care for their own children. There is a sense of community, and openness between teachers and parents that allow activities and fun celebrations to happen on a regular basis. Parents come voluntarily to help with the library, helping teachers, going on field trips, contributing to the arts and dance programs. Come and visit the school, you will be convinced that it is a unique place.
We've been very disappointed by this school. It seems to be going through some major changes, not for the better. The morale seems to have plummeted around the school this year among both parents and teachers. The new principal has made some changes that the teachers aren't happy about (many of the tenured teachers filed official grievances with their union). And many parents feel that the testing has become too important and that the teachers are just teaching to the test. The dual language program was fine up until the testing grades (3-5). From then on, the focus from the first day of school is on the state tests and as I was reminded each time I complained about the diminishing Spanish instruction time, "The tests are in English." Also, they've switched to a new curriculum this year which is not available in Spanish so even after testing was over for the year and I asked our teacher if she'd be getting back to 50/50 English/Spanish instruction she told me that was impossible since she didn't have enough Spanish materials. Also, beware, a 20-story building will be under construction right next door to the school for the next 3 years, making it a horrible learning environment.
I heard great things about this school. My son is going to enter in Kindergarten next year and I am soooo excited about that. Also about their dual language program... All I can say is that I have been following their improvement in different areas and they are doing better and better each year. Very committed to their children.
I graduated from P.S. 163 two years ago. I was there since first grade, and I absolutely loved the school. I was in the gifted and talented dual language program. I loved all my teachers, they were extremely hepful, fun and energetic. The school is so diverse, I had friends of all different ethnicities.I really wish I was still there. I honestly cannot think of anything I didn't like about the school
I'm a parent of a gifted and non-gifted child who both attend P.S. 163. The school is made up of parents of many backgrounds (Black, White, Asian and Spanish). The staff there is extremely helpful. The Parent Coordinator is a gem. When I was unhappy with my oldest child's school she guided me through the process to get my oldest into P.S. 163. The Co-President of the PTA took a call from me at 9pm when I was unhappy about some school photographs that came out bad. I was able to have my child re-take the shots with no extra cost to me. My 2nd grader is in the gifted program. My 2nd grader scored high enough on the gifted tests that she could have gotten into any school that she wanted. I picked P.S. 163 because I liked the atmosphere. I especially liked the fact that there is not attitude of "we are better then you" among the students who are in gifted class against the ones who are in general education classes. I also liked that while there is a strong academic program, the children are allowed to actually have fun and be children. The school has a great afterschool program run by LEAP which is from 3-6pm.
During the enrollment process in 2010, we were offered a G&T seat at PS 163. We did not know much about the school at the time but from the moment we walked in the school doors we knew we found a D3 hidden gem of a school. The administration is available and is a constant presence in the school. The teachers are dedicated, hard working and have always been willing to give extra time to help support our child s education and development. I especially like the trailers for the kindergarten classrooms. I had neutral feelings about them going into the school year but they turned out to be ideal. The kids have their own bathroom, drop off & pick up are at the classroom door and there is a nice play yard just for the kindergartners. The school does not raise as much money as some of the other D3 schools but I feel the school and PTA have done a great job in choosing the right places to spend the money. The school community is warm and inviting. There is a great sense of pride in the school and all the programs offered in the school; Gen Ed, Dual Language & G&T, work together to make this possible.