Below please find a wonderful article from the Greenpoint Gazette about PS 84:
“Part of our school vision is to become a ‘Community Hub,’ explained Principal Sereida Rodriguez. To this end, the administration implemented “Saturday Academy,” in which neighborhood adults can take Spanish or English and citizenship classes while kids do Capoiera, Recycled Art classes and movement. Next year, PS 84 will grow its “Community Roots” program to engage members of the community who wish to participate in the school but do not currently have children there. A partnership with South Williamsburg institution El Puente brought together students from the El Puente Academy for Social Justice High School with PS 84 students and families, last summer, to paint the standout mural on the front of the school. The school’s events have a broad community reach, with this year’s Gala Fundraising Auction attracting people from all over District 14, and it has gained strong support from local businesses and representatives, as well.
The South Williamsburg community is undergoing massive changes. Given the momentum toward new development and a changing demographic, PS84’s egalitarian spirit is remarkable. Parents, administrators and teachers collaborate to create a greater good for all kids matriculating at the school – regardless of race, socioeconomics, culture or even academic level. The school’s Greenhouse Classroom is a great illustration of this. Every kid will have science classes in the Greenhouse and will benefit from deep learning opportunities there. Rodriguez is particularly adept at balancing the needs of her incredibly diverse school population, balancing a budget and navigating the complicated political landscape to ensure that every person here has a voice and a plan.
This year, parents started more than 15 committees at the school, such as fundraising, grant writing, garden and grounds, murals, advocacy, materials room, gala, parent chain, garden party, and wellness. This gives a huge swath of parents the chance to participate and to utilize their particular skill for the betterment of the whole community. The committees are self-run and report back to the PTA board, which in turn reports to the Principal. At 84, every parent or teacher or administrator is empowered to “Be the change we want to see in the world.” When anyone sees the potential for improvement or has an idea for a project, he or she is invited to lead the effort with the PTAproviding the support needed to get things going. Every volunteer at 84 goes through the Learning Leaders training and screening process to ensure safety and effective participation with the children.
PS 84 is the only elementary school in District 14 with a curriculum focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, ARTS, and mathematics). It started the Green classroom curriculum this year as a precursor to the Rooftop Greenhouse Classroom. PS 84 also worked alongside the YMCA to provide a MindUp curriculum that teaches breathing techniques and self-regulation. It implemented the ST Math program in grades 3 and 4 which is a researched based technology program. Other new programs launched this school year included Trout in the Classroom and 4Rs Social Emotional Learning for grades 3-5.
As PS 84 wraps up the school year, it looks forward to its June 13th Ballroom Competition, its second annual Artstravaganza at which student art is displayed along with a chorus performance and a talent show on June 14th and its third annual Garden Party on June 22nd, which is open to the community. This fun event features incredible food, music and activity booths for the kids with face painting, plant a seed and more.
When asked what makes her school a good choice for local parents, Rodriguez responded with a quote from a parent: “I’ve heard it said among parents that walking into PS84 is ‘like stepping into a hug.’ This is a unique place. My daughter Isadora is in Kindergarten this year, so we are actually quite new to the school – but even early on last year in her Pre-K year, it quickly became apparent to me that the every person at the school knew her: the fireman, the security guard, all of the teachers, the administrators. The lunch monitor can tell me whether and what she has eaten….It is a place where each kid is treated as an individual. For any public school, DOE regulations, core curriculum and testing requirements are a reality, but the administration here is dedicated to flexibility and to tailoring solutions to each child.”