P.S./I.S. 210

The Twenty-First Century Academy for Community Leadership, P.S. 210, is a Kindergarten to Grade 8 dual language (Spanish and English) school.  The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) recognize the building for being "one of the first Green Schools in the state (New York State)."It is located at West 152nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Hamilton Heights. The building was designed by Michael Fieldman Architects and was finished on September 2007.  It accommodates 500 students.

P.S. 210 was organized in partnership with community leaders from the Association for Progressive Dominicans, Inc. (ACDP) and private organizations, such as the New Visions for Public Schools.  The purpose was to create an educational institution that would attend to the needs of the immediate community, which is predominately Hispanic.  The most important pedagogical aspect is that it offers to students a genuine bilingual education, where the week is divided between classes two days in Spanish and three days in English (and vice versa).  This approach gives children the opportunity to receive a broader education than in a typical school, since the teachers do not limit themselves to teaching or translating a language in the way that ESL (English as a Second Language) programs work.  Instead, this school takes advantage of the bilingual nature of the community it serves and gives children the opportunity to receive a comprehensive education, where they become acquainted with all academic subjects in both languages.  All subjects are covered thoroughly in English and Spanish.  "Signs throughout school, student artwork, essays, and poetry are in both languages."  Due to this unique teaching approach, "high standards and multiple levels of assessments (in both languages) are used to evaluate the progress of children." As I was told by a staff member I interviewed, "very rarely children above 2nd grade are accepted."

A typical classroom is composed of an average of 17 students.  In the lower grades, two teachers (only one needs to be bilingual) are assigned per classroom in order to provide individual attention to struggling students.  All classrooms are equipped with the latest technology in audio/visual aids.  The furniture and its arrangement vary depending on the students' age; however the space within each classroom is broken down into different stations to encourage different types of teaching/learning methods.  Although most students are Hispanic,  P.S. 210 is not intended to be a Hispanic-only school.  The organization makes clear, "As a dual language school, English as a Second language (ESL) is provided as is Spanish as a Second language (SSL)."  Non-Spanish as well as non-English speaking children occupy the same classrooms and go through a similar process when learning the second language.  The school uses a variety of methods in 
order to ensure that students are not left behind due to a lack of language dominance.  They include "independent/paired reading, shared reading, guided reading, literacy centers, literature circles, writer's workshops, interactive read aloud, word study, author studies, book clubs, interactive writing, and teacher/student reading and writing conferences."

Also, as an urban school, P.S. 210, is an active member of the community.  The Mission Statement states that "children and families are provided with the social/emotional, physical, and academic support that they need to be productive citizens." As part of this effort, the school partners with local community organizations (such as the Association of Progressive Dominicans, Inc) and opens its doors to the community by providing a variety of classes and workshops for parents, such as: English as a Second Language, arts and crafts classes, culinary classes, etc and also by welcoming community organizations to use its spaces for events and meetings.