PS 20 and Sean Keaton

 Inside schools just reported,

"Sean Keaton, former principal of PS 20 in Fort Greene, was acquitted in a Brooklyn court last week of "menacing in the third degree," a charge stemming from an altercation with a teacher in the principal's office in 2009, Department of Education officials confirmed. But the DOE would not say whether Keaton would return to his post or whether the interim acting principal, Lena Barbera, would stay.

 Go to for the rest of the story.

Trilok Fusion Center for Arts & Education

Trilok is the Sanskrit word that means "three worlds"; the world of the family, the educators and the place where they all come together to create a safe, nurturing, dynamic and creative environment for children to grow.

Trilok Fusion Center for Arts & Education is a very unique combination of Arts and Community Center and a progressive preschool that is growing to 8th grade. They have found a wonderful new home at 143 Waverly Ave. in Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill. The building is vast (22,000 sq.ft) and renovated in bright pop art colors and it will house the current growing preschool and studios for local artists and events. They plan to integrate the community and artists with the school to provide a rich environment for all the participants.

The school features an international outlook, language, Gandhian principals, a story telling/hands on curriculum, rich art and dance programs including an extensive weaving classroom and yoga.

They are currently registering kids for their 10th summer camp program for kids from 2 to 15 years from July 5th through Aug. 26. Programs include Weaving & Sewing, Music & Dance, Cooking & Gardening, Art & Theatre. For more information: or call 718-797-1700.

Dillon Child Study Center

Dillon Child Study Center is a long standing (75 years), child centered preschool program in Ft. Greene Brooklyn. This school has large and sunny classrooms and a well equipped outdoor play space where kids can ride bikes and scooters. Their age cutoff is Dec. 31 like NYC public schools.

One thing that sets Dillon apart from other fine preschool programs is their association with St. Joseph's College. They are a "laboratory preschool" with the full complement of long time, full time, paid teachers and a multitude of college students getting their field work experience in the classroom. The college students are not counted in the official student:teacher ratio, which averages to about 6:1 (those numbers are dependent on age). They are required to do 5 hours a week. When they graduate from this 4 year program, they will have both Special Ed and General Ed certification for Birth through 6th grade. The kids often call them "my college student".

Dillon has a 5 day a week schedule but depending on the age of the preschool students it may be a part time or full time schedule offered. The Director, Susan Straut-Collard, said that they believe that the consistency of a daily schedule is important for the children's development. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule may look like it makes sense to you as a parent, but to a child who doesn't know the days of the week, it just may appear to be random.

I asked her, "how would you describe 'child centered'?" And she told me a story about a child who was interested in Jackson Pollack. The other kids in the class didn't know who that was, so the teacher showed them examples of his paintings. The kids thought that the paintings looked pretty easy to do, so when they came in the next day, the floor was covered with paper and the kids were immediately put into smocks to try it for themselves. They wanted to see what a real Jackson Pollack looked like so they went on a trip to visit one in person. From this little seed, grew 8 months of "inquiry", many trips to museums and the study of lots of other painters. Child centered means following the interests of the class to enrich the embedded learning. Dillon is not an academic program in the preschool years and current progressive studies have shown that enriched play is extremely important for children's academic development. Another thing that is a little unusual about Dillon is that they have a kindergarten class, which is the first academic year and prepares students for both public and private first grade placements.

Their last tour this year is Wed. March 2, but if you have missed that you should contact Susan Straut-Collard, 718.940.5689.

If you have arrived late on the scene and missed the regular admissions season, all the Preschool Directors recommend contacting them and staying in touch through the spring and summer and you may very well be lucky if there is last minute attrition, which happens more often than you think.

Greene Hill School

I got a little note from the Greene Hill School this morning and I thought that I would pass it on.

"Greene Hill School is thrilled to announce that we have found a truly spectacular permanent home for the school at 39 Adelphi St. The school building -- which has been in continual use as a school for more than 100 years -- has large classrooms with floor to ceiling windows, a library, an auditorium with a stage, and an outdoor play space. We are so pleased to be able to stay in the neighborhoods that inspired Greene Hill and invite you to contact us to learn more about out program for the fall.

More about Greene Hill:
Greene Hill School is a newly established progressive elementary and middle school located in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Brooklyn. Conceived by neighborhood parents and educators, Greene Hill is an engaging, supportive and socially responsible community of active learners. In September 2010 GHS will offer small classes for children ages 4-8. Greene Hill School is currently accepting applications for children 4-8. If you are interested in visiting the school, please email us at or call 718.230.3608 to set up an appointment."

I can't wait to see the new space. I would also like to add that they have a progressive focus, very knowledgeable directors, rich classroom environments and now that they have a space of their own, I think that they will really take off. Did I mention that they are among the Independent school bargains?



Spanish dual language at PS 46

If you live in Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill (and even if you don't) you should check out the new Spanish dual language program at PS 46, Edward Blum School, in district 13. Karyn Nicholson, their energetic new principal, is reaching out to the community. The staff which has long experience with bilingual education is well suited to put a dual language program into place. They started this fall with preK, k and first grade dual language classrooms. If the program proves popular there would be room for a second class on a grade. They are assessing students who are interested in the program for language proficiency (they are looking for both English and Spanish speakers) as well as looking for strong learners who will be able to handle the challenge of the dual language program. The k class I saw was focused and engaged and reading the Spanish lesson easily. The hallways are lined with excellent and varied writer's workshop published pieces.

Ms. Nicholson has a strong vision for the school and there are good facilities and lots of enrichment in place for her to build on. The school has a beautiful Robin Hood library. There is an art classroom and teacher with a science focus and a second art room/teacher with a math focus. There is also an extensive music program. I was very impressed with the science teacher, who is clearly transferring his enthusiasm for his subject to his students.

The parent coordinator, Cecilia Lopez (347) 563-5323 has a open door policy and her parent's room is open from 8 to 4. Contact her to find out about the next open house which will be scheduled shortly. I will also list it in the newsletter.

They have also have a new review on insideschools as of May 09.

New Interim Acting Principal for PS 20

I just got word that a new interim acting principal has been assigned to PS 20 and by all accounts she is AMAZING. Lena Barbera has been an AP at the lovely PS 261. She had been at 261 since 1996 as a teacher and Math Coach. It sounds like the teachers working with her will have a lot of support because she worked at 261 implementing new curriculum and modeling instructional practices for new teachers. She has been an AP for 5 years. She is a graduate of of Hunter College and Brooklyn College.
For a little more information and a lovely picture (so you can say hi when you see her on the street) you can check out her bio on the PS 261 website

Update: A few people have written to ask what "interim acting" means. "Before a principal or assistant principal is permanently appointed, the DoE often appoints an Interim Acting (IA) principal or assistant principal." this is from the blog jd2718 which explains the appointment process from a UFT teacher's point of view. The interim acting principal goes through the C30 hiring process to be permanently appointed to a school. I was on a C30 committee as a parent a few years ago. A committee is collected of "parent, teacher, school staff, administrator union, and Department of Education (through Region, District etc) personnel." The job is advertised and candidates including the "interim acting principal" are interviewed and their qualifications reviewed. In my situation there was never any doubt that we wanted the interim acting principal to have the job as the best possible candidate. The jd2718 describes it as merely a rubber stamp process. I can't speak to that. I do hope that a new candidate from a strong and well respected program who has considerable skills and experience can bring the school community together.

No Citywide G & T at PS 20 in Brooklyn

PS 20 will no doubt weather its troubles, but it is sad news for children who tested into the citywide gifted and talented program. One less option is always a sad story. Many parents saw the placement of a citywide program, which would consist of a single class on a grade, into an existing school as a curious move on the DOE's part. Considering the three citywides in Manhattan are full schools (although petite) it enables the teachers and administrators to build school wide programs especially designed for this end of the special needs spectrum. I would imagine that the school wide staff development geared to G&T would be invaluable and help produce fine and sought after programs.

The city has for years placed single G & T classes in general ed schools and although the talented teachers that lead these classes have toiled in solitude (one on a grade) they have done a fine job. It seems to me that the citywide program is serving a different purpose. I believe that was the thinking of the many parents that left their northern Brooklyn neighborhoods in droves to seek out Brooklyn School of Inquiry. Insideschools has reported that because of the huge popularity of the school that they will be adding a third kindergarten to the school and only opening one first grade class.

So, were Principal Keaton's troubles the reason that the program has closed? Was it the fact that it looked like this program, that had been given special development and attention at other schools, a seeming afterthought at PS 20? Was it a lack of focus and expertise in gifted and talented education that put parents off? We won't know. The DOE has a challenge finding the resources, the location and the educators to pull off this kind of program. I think that they have made a great bet in Donna Taylor and Brooklyn School of Inquiry.