Top Tier NYC Public Elementary: PS 6

3/21/07 - By Anna Fader
PS 6 is located in the heart of Manhattan's Upper East Side, on 81st Street and Madison Ave. Many of the families who live in the neighborhood have made a choice to attend PS 6 over some of the the best private schools in NYC, located in the very neighborhood of this school. That choice is due largely to the reputation of a high standard of academics at the school - PS 6 is considered one of the top schools in NYC. It is a zone school - if you live within the zone you are guaranteed a space for your children - the school has not been able to accept children out of the zone for quite some time due to high attendance from within the zone.


The building itself is fairly standard issue elementary public school, but is kept very clean and organized with children's artwork adorning the walls - some of which show the student's take on the works of Van Gogh, Mondrian and Monet amongst others. Recently, one wall was adorned with the kindergartener's art as inspired by Van Gogh's "Starry Night". There is a supervised open-air play yard for ball playing and running around, a roof play yard and a large auditorium. The library was recently entirely over-hauled and offers a fantastic array of books for perusal and check out. Each day, the librarian offers "open hours" from 3-5pm for all PS 6 families to enjoy. Children are dropped off either in the large fenced-in outdoor play yard on the school's backside, or through the front door. Younger children go to the cafeteria and await their teacher's for pick-up and walk to the classroom. Older children gather in the play yard on fair weather days and await pick up there, or the auditorium on rainy days. There are strict restrictions on too much parental involvement at drop-off time - they strongly emphasize "drop and leave" at the school - no loitering in the halls for safety purposes. In general, parents are kept are kept at arm's distance from the school. Parental involvement is very controlled and some parents yearn for more access to teachers and the school. All children eat in the large, clean and organized auditorium - younger children "first lunch shift" and older children "second lunch shift". Although the school common areas are large, the school NEVER feels chaotic, out of control or like a frightening environment. Class size is reasonable - kindergarten is approximately 23-25 children with at least 2 teachers in class at all times; upper grades include about 28 children per class. Most classes have both a teacher and a student teacher full-time, and a "Learning Leader" a couple of days a week (typically a University Education major student). The PTA helps with funding of student teachers and many other programs - the parent body is asked to contribute a cash donation (this year it was $750) at the start of the year to assist with this program. Additionally, each family is asked to provide about $100 worth of school supplies for each classroom (paints, markers, pencils, paper, etc...) The curriculum is challenging from Kindergarten on. Five year olds begin their time at PS 6 WRITING their autobiographies, painting self-portraits, learning about compound words, learning how to create graphs and compare basic statistics, and taking part in weekly classes of chess, library, music, movement and art. Specific focus at the school is a fantastic writing program - Teachers College has designated PS 6 as a "mentor school" for its reading and writing project. Children experiment writing fiction, non-fiction (as early as kindergarten), poems, essays and much more. They learn the writing process from picking ideas, formulating ideas, character development and publishing. It is amazing to see a 5 year old writing and illustrating their "weekend report" each Monday based on what they did that past weekend, or trying their hands at their first non-fiction writing assignment. Classes host "Publishing Parties" to show off their work to parents a few times per year. This post was written by a recent former PS 6 parent.