Top Tier NYC Public Elementary School: PS 150
PS 150, The Tribeca Learning Center, is a small, choice public elementary school located in Tribeca, just two blocks north of PS 234. A choice school means that you do not have to live in a particular catchment to be able to attend. The school is required to give preference to people who live in the surrounding zones, however, and due to increasing popularity of PS 150 it may become much harder for children outside the Downtown Manhattan area to get in. PS 150 has a reputation for it's small size, excellent test scores, and community of very involved parents. The PTA raises a very large amount of money from The Taste of Tribeca fundraiser, it's auction, and direct appeal from the parents, among other things. The PTA funds pay for many enrichment programs as well as classroom aides for the lower grades to make up for large class sizes. The school is also unique because it has an in-house cook who prepares all the meals which students eat in their classrooms and one of the rare full-day public pre-k programs in NYC.
But, size really has to be one of the most distinctive qualities about the school. With only one class per grade, about 180 kids in the whole school, PS 150 is about the size of one grade at many other New York schools. This presents some benefits and some challenges. Because of it's size, PS 150 has one of the nicest communities you will find in any school. Everyone, literally, knows each other. The kids know all the other kids in different grades and the teachers and staff know every kid. This creates a wonderfully caring environment. It really is like a small village. Another unique quality is that, with only one class per grade, students stay together throughout their entire career at PS 150. Students are taught from the beginning to get along as a group and is very little teasing, bullying and cliquishness. The kids develop very close friendships with their classmates. Supporting this environment is an excellent guidance counselor who works with kids in the classroom and individually to work out social problems and teach positive behavior. Of course, there are challenges too. A smaller school gets less funding from the NYC DOE, so the PTA has to pick up the slack to have full-time teachers for extracurriculars like art, science and music. PS 150 does not have a gym. Students play in a large plaza outside the school, meaning in inclement weather children watch movies during recess. The PTA does pay for a dance residency to replace gym for the winter months so that students can get some exercise indoors. PS 150 's academics are strong. The school has gotten perfect Math scores and the Reading scores are also very high. The science program is excellent and there are many extracurriculars. Students learn keyboards in music class and several outside programs come in to the school, including, an architecture program, ballroom dancing (PS 150 was featured in the film Mad Hot Ballroom), story-telling, a residency with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more. PS 150 is a relatively new school and the curriculum is still evolving. The new principal, Maggie Siena is a strong leader and is known in the downtown community from her days as a teacher and Assistant Principal at PS 234 down the street, and a founder of City Hall Academy. Ms. Siena is working to strengthen the curriculum further toward theme-based studies.