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Windsor Terrace Schools Serve Diverse yet Tight-Knit Community

By Leslie Albrecht | February 11, 2013 7:03am

WINDSOR TERRACE — Windsor Terrace is known as the Brooklyn neighborhood with a small-town feel, and the two public elementary schools that serve the area reflect that atmosphere.

Both P.S. 154 and P.S. 130 are very much at the center of community life, and after-school programs at both schools mean some students spend nearly their entire day at school, parents say.

The neighborhood's strong ties to the schools came to the fore in late 2011 when City Councilman Brad Lander asked locals to vote on projects that deserved city funding. The overwhelming choice in Windsor Terrace was to make improvements to P.S. 130 and P.S. 154.

The two schools teamed up and convinced more than 700 people to vote for funding new technology at the schools. The project beat out several other local ideas, and the schools ended up winning $140,000 to buy and install 15 SMART Boards (interactive whiteboards) for P.S. 130, and 45 13-inch MacBook computers, two laptop storage carts and two color-laser wireless printers for P.S. 154.

 P.S. 154 in Windsor Terrace.
P.S. 154 in Windsor Terrace.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

"It's a good indication of how passionate our families are here," P.S. 154 Principal Eric Havlik said. "We were in the top with respect to voting because people really care. It's not just the staff and me. The parents really want what's best for the kids."

P.S. 154, Museum Alliance for Science and Technology Magnet School, 1625 11th Ave.

Families flock to P.S. 154 for its warm atmosphere and high-quality education, Havlik said. Aside from standard academics, students get exposure to a host of enrichment programs including chess, capoeira, Shakespeare and ballroom dancing. New this year is a partnership with ArtsConnection that will have kindergartners building model playgrounds. Another new addition is Havlik, 35, who was recently appointed principal after serving as assistant principal for four years.

The wide array of programs has drawn more and more families to P.S. 154, a trend that, combined with budget cuts, has increased class sizes up to 30 students in some cases, Havlik said. Despite its growing size, P.S. 154 still has a "wonderful" science lab, a computer lab, an art studio and a  music room, he added.

"We want kids when they graduate to be intellectually curious, responsible citizens, but most important, to be really self-confident so they can tackle the challenges of middle school," Havlik said.

P.S. 130, The Parkside School, 70 Ocean Parkway

Racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse, P.S. 130 is "like the United Nations of schools," said PTA co-president Christine Farrell. The mother of a second-grader who was adopted from Guatemala, Farrell said that diversity is high on the list of P.S. 130's many positive traits.

Students speak some 22 languages at home, and communication can sometimes be a challenge, Farrell said. But it's one the school meets well — the principal is fluent in Spanish, an assistant principal speaks Russian and an aide speaks Bengali.

P.S. 130 has built a strong arts curriculum, and the administration is committed to exposing students to the arts as part of their regular school routine, Farrell said. There's a partnership with ArtsConnection, and students travel to Carnegie Hall twice a year. The school has also maintained an art teacher and a music teacher on staff, and third-graders have been taking guitar lessons this year.

Another recent development has been the PTA's emergence as an advocate for the school, Farrell said. The parent group fought a tough "ground game" to win funding for technology upgrades.

Next up, the PTA wants to lobby for improvements to P.S. 130's electrical system.

"The PTA is really expanding in terms of politics and outreach," Farrell said. "That's been a choice that we've made, to move in that direction of advocacy as well as fundraising."