Brave New World at P.S. 247
evens the playing field’ is the simple, but important tenet Brooklyn’s
District 20 Superintendent,Vincent Grippo, does business by.
grow by 600 students each year,” he said in his introductory comments
at New York’s “Best Practices in Education” conference held in
Brooklyn. “Our population speaks 64 languages, the most in any
New York district. Forty-to-50 percent of them speak English as
a second language. Half of our students qualify for free lunch,”
he continued. “So our task is not easy. But, I figure, if technology
and great teachers are good enough for the rich, we’ll impose
them on the poor.”
Nearly a dozen conference participants, including Grippo and Ninfa
Segarra, then Board member, now President of the Board, visited
Bensonhurst’s PS 247, the District’s prize school, to see how
far technology goes to help education.
is no question that our teachers—always unbelievably enthusiastic
and committed—are our main asset,” Principal Kathy LeDonni said.
“But technology really helps us to reach our goals which are extremely
Indeed, PS 247, a K-5 school of nearly 700 students, is an exceptional
place of learning. “At the end of the day, most of our boys and
girls don’t want to go home,” said LeDonni, who knows every student
The school was recently given the New York State Title I Distinguished
School award, bestowed upon schools that meet certain strict standards
of achievement. As visitors walked the halls, they looked into
richly decorated and classrooms with busy students. The fourth
grade was equipped with 40 laptop computers on mobile carts, with
wireless internet access.
year alone, our kids employed technology to research immigration,
New York City, endangered species, the Olympic games, and their
favorite authors,” LeDonni said.
is all quite amazing,” commented Segarra. “It’s exciting to see
the students this involved and advanced. This school is quite
an example of what is the very best in public education.”
Still, the highlight of the visit was the school’s electronic
music lab, replete with four computers and 16 Casio keyboards.
They are connected to Maria Sanzone’s teacher center, a keyboard,
a controller and a computer, from which she conducts every “performance.”
No matter how rudimentary their knowledge, kids get tremendous
“instant gratification” with every note, with the computers making
them sound like a full orchestra. This, in turn, makes them want
to learn even more music.
are very fortunate to have all this technology at our disposal,”
Sanzone said. “It opens an entire new world to the children. And
it’s a wonderful world.”
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