Volume 22, Number 25 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 30 - November 6, 2009
A peek into the life of a kindergartener
Downtown Expres photo by Elisabeth Robert
Kindergarteners ar P.S. 276 take gym classes in small groups.
The kindergarteners who started school two months ago at Tweed Courthouse looked very busy last Friday morning when Downtown Express stopped by for a visit.
In just a few hours, the students at the Spruce Street School and P.S. 276 painted in primary colors, acted out stories and played dress-up, bingo and soccer. In one 276 classroom, two boys constructed a city of wooden blocks that towered a good foot above their heads.
“Look at this!” the boys called out as Terri Ruyter, P.S. 276 principal, walked past. “We built this ourselves!”
The rooms looked very different from last year, when the ground floor of Tweed was occupied by the Ross Global Academy, a charter school. Ruyter and Spruce Principal Nancy Harris bought all new furniture and equipment to fill the space, and it had a much lighter, more open feeling without the dividers Ross was using.
Since Tweed is also the Dept. of Education’s headquarters, the children have to pass through a metal detector as they enter the school. The classrooms have columns and chandeliers, and the walls showcase quotes about politics and close-ups of Mayor Bloomberg signing bills.
Students from both schools appeared interested in their surroundings, building their own version of Tweed in blocks or imitating the old-fashioned elevators with makeshift pulleys. On a bulletin board in the hallway, one kindergarten student sketched the school in green, put stick figures inside and added a pink-marker label: “Tuet Kordhas.”
Ruyter and Harris share an office and some common spaces, including a cafeteria, but the schools are on opposite sides of Tweed and the students learn separately. Each school has two large corner classrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, which make the small classes (fewer than 20 students) feel even smaller.
On Friday morning, the Spruce Street School used one of these large rooms for a “Spruce Street Circle,” a gathering of the school’s three kindergarten classes on the central green and blue rugs. Teacher Gina van der Vliet, from the Netherlands, shared Dutch snacks with the kindergarteners, who are also paired with Dutch pen pals.
Although most kindergarteners cannot read yet, the Spruce Street students were learning the fundamentals by studying several books in depth, including “Caps for Sale” and “Corduroy.” Crouching on the rug, the children acted out their books in pairs, taking on the roles and voices of monkeys and trolls as the stories demanded.
Over on the P.S. 276 side, seven kindergarteners were in the classroom that serves as a gym, learning to dribble soccer balls with the sides of their feet. The children go to gym in half groups, which both accommodates the small space and gives them more one-on-one attention.
Meanwhile, other 276 students were learning the recipe for pumpkin cheesecake or painting cardboard models of trees, in keeping with 276’s environmental theme.
P.S. 276 is slated to move into its new Battery Park City building next fall, while Spruce is expected to remain in place another year before moving into the new Frank Gehry-designed tower on Beekman St.
The city has not decided whether Spruce and 276 will be zoned for next fall or how the application process will work, but parents of children who will start kindergarten in 2010 can begin touring the schools soon.
The Spruce Street School will hold tours at Tweed Courthouse from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on four Thursdays: Nov. 19, Dec. 17, Jan. 21 and Feb 4. Parents can RSVP by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. 276 will hold kindergarten tours at Tweed Courthouse from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on five Wednesdays: Nov. 18, Dec. 2, Dec. 16, Jan. 13 and Jan. 27. Parents can RSVP on the school’s blog, PS276.blogspot.com.
Ruyter will also hold sixth grade information sessions for families with students interested in entering I.S. 276 next fall. The sessions will be held at the Downtown Community Center, 120 Warren St., on three Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Nov. 2, Nov. 16 and Nov. 30. Parents can RSVP on I.S. 276’s blog, IS276.blogspot.com.
— Julie Shapiro