Around the UFT

PS 335, Brooklyn, named a Blue Ribbon School

Color them achievers!

Yes, they are blue — Blue Ribbon that is — and proud of it, at PS 335 in Brooklyn. Parents, community members, politicians and UFTers joined in the celebration of a school that worked hard to close the achievement gap — and succeeded.
Basking in the public recognition for a job well done are (from left) PS 335 Chapter Leader Darcy Husbands, Principal Laverne Nimmons, Assistant Principal Betty Davis, UFT District 16 Representative Ronald Mailman and UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford.

When students at PS 335 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, say they are “blue,” they don’t mean sad — they mean they attend a nationally recognized 2010 Blue Ribbon award-winning school.

One of 304 schools chosen by the U.S. Department of Education, the only school in Brooklyn, made the cut because of the strides it made in student achievement.

At a March 2 Blue Ribbon celebration, students from all grades had a chance to perform, with some singing songs that included “Boogie-Woogie Blue,” others dancing and playing “I’m So Glad” in the Granville T. Woods School band, and other groups performing skits they had written for the occasion.

UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford and District Representative Ronald Mailman also were on hand to congratulate the students, staff and parents.

Darcy Husbands, chapter leader at the school for seven years, said he’s seen the school “at its lowest achievement level and now at its best,” and that the same teachers, with more focus and direction, have helped to turn the school around.

Students went from 26 percent proficient in English language arts in 2005 to 87 percent in 2009; in math they went from 30 percent in 2004 to 97 percent in 2009, the year in which they were nominated to become a Blue Ribbon School.

“It’s really all about the teachers and the hard work they did,” Principal Laverne Nimmons said. “There was a lot of professional development which was applied and put in place.”

Professional development is provided by Eureka Oliver at the on-site UFT Teacher Center, literacy coach Karena Thompson, math coach Deidra Lacy and technology specialist Pierre Michel, Husbands said. “Our support staff was also instrumental in our achievement,” he said.

The school, which has a 98 percent poverty rate, as measured by eligibility for free/reduced lunch, shows that “we are truly bridging the achievement gap,” Nimmons said.

Husbands also said the school’s new partnerships with Fordham University, Columbia University’s Teachers College and the neighborhood’s Weekville Heritage Center contributed to their success.

“Our students and teachers are extremely excited to see all these people coming to our school; people are very proud,” he said.

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