Situated among tenements and vacant lots in a neighborhood that parents and faculty describe as dangerous after dark, PS 105 has worked hard to become an orderly oasis where kids can learn.
Principal Laurie Shapiro has been at the helm of the school since 1997, when 90 percent of its students were unable to perform at grade-level in English and math. By spring, 2004, however, more than 60 percent of the school's 4th graders were meeting standards on math tests. PS 105 still has much ground to gain in reading and writing -- only 30 percent of the children meet literacy standards on state exams -- but is striving to do just that.
"Parents thought I wouldn't last," said Shapiro, who says she has missed five days of work -- three at the insistence of her doctor -- since she became principal. In her first year, Shapiro re-interviewed the faculty and replaced several teachers. She also set out to establish order and a new "tone and climate" in the school. Today, children walk quietly and calmly through hallways and raise hands before speaking in class.
PS 105's steady progress has come largely from a uniformity of teaching styles in all grades. All blackboards display current lessons and objectives. All walls burst with student art and creative writing. The push towards literacy is apparent even in the gym, where a "word wall" lists vocabulary like "catch," "leap," and "kick."
Read the story in NYT.
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