Two Manhattan schools earn Blue Ribbon awards for academic excellence in 2019

P.S. 40 in Gramercy Park was one of two Manhattan schools to earn National Blue Ribbons for excellence from the U.S. Department of Education in 2019 (Photos courtesy of U.S. Department of Education)
P.S. 40 in Gramercy Park was one of two Manhattan schools to earn National Blue Ribbons for excellence from the U.S. Department of Education in 2019 (Photos courtesy of U.S. Department of Education)

BY ROBERT POZARYCKI | Parents, teachers and children at two Manhattan schools are feeling a happy shade of blue after they earned National Blue Ribbon honors from the U.S. Department of Education.

P.S. 40 in Gramercy and P.S. 59 in Midtown East were among 19 New York state schools to receive the designation recognizing outstanding academic achievement. The U.S. Education Department announced the awards on Sept. 25.

“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a video message sent to the honorees.

Both schools are in the 2nd School District, and Community Superintendent Donalda Chumney was thrilled they were recognized.

“The cultivation of these two communities has been a labor of love for both principals and the members of their respective faculties,” Chumney told The Villager. “The teaching in both schools demonstrates passion, intellect, expertise, and playfulness, all of which help the children to thrive. At P.S. 40 and P.S. 59, teachers are attuned to the unique combination of support and challenge that each student needs to excel. Parents are essential partners at P.S. 40 and P.S. 59, and this recognition commends their contributions as well.”

Susan Felder serves as principal of P.S. 40, which serves the Gramercy Park and Stuyvesant Town areas of the East Side. According to the city Department of Education’s (DOE) School Quality Snapshot for the 2017-18 year, 89 percent of all P.S. 40 students met state standards on both the English language arts and math exams.

Additionally, 99 percent of students met next level readiness standards.

Parents and teachers at P.S. 40 also expressed great satisfaction with the school’s performance on the snapshot. The report indicated that 99 percent of families surveyed said they were satisfied with their child’s education, and 100 percent of teachers surveyed said they would recommend their school to any family looking for a place for their child.

P.S. 40 boasts in its National Blue Ribbon profile the use of “a collaborative approach to learning in which students participate in inquiry-based work within a clearly articulated, developmentally appropriate curricular framework.”

Additionally, the school “emphasizes social responsibility and offers [its] upper grade students leadership opportunities, including training in conflict resolution/peer mediation and participation in student government,” as noted in the profile.

Youngsters at P.S. 59 in Manhattan.

P.S. 59, under the leadership of Principal Adele Schroeter, also achieved excellent overall marks for student performance. The school serves the Midtown East and Beekman Hill areas.

The DOE’s 2017-18 School Quality Snapshot noted that 83 percent of students met state standards for English language arts performance, and 84 percent of them met state math standards.

The snapshot noted that 100 percent of all P.S. 59 students met next level readiness parameters, and 97 percent of all parents surveyed said that they were satisfied with the quality of their child’s education.

P.S. 59 boasted its overall student population diversity in its Blue Ribbon profile, noting that its “620 students come from down the block, as well as Japan, Hungary and dozens of other countries,” bringing with them “their rich languages, cultures and traditions.”

As a result, the school emphasizes the value of diversity while educating youngsters on becoming “conscious of a wider world.” P.S. 59 also values student choices, and the administration works to “make sure they have choice in the books they read, the topics about which they write, the strategies they use to solve problems, and the questions they ask.”

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza applauded all New York City schools that were honored with Blue Ribbons this year: “Congratulations to our schools for earning this great honor! I’m so proud of our hard-working students, teachers, and school staff and their wonderful accomplishment.”

More than 9,000 elementary, middle and high schools across the United States have received National Blue Ribbons from the U.S. Education Department over the last 37 years. The honor recognizes “exemplary high performing schools” which scored high on state tests and “exemplary achievement gap closing schools” that were among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps.

This year’s honorees will be feted at award ceremonies in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14-15.

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