Soundview Public School Becoming One of City’s Finest

A Soundview public school is quietly emerging as one of the top schools in the Bronx under the guidance of an old education program from Italy.

P.S. 69, a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school on 560 Thieriot Avenue, is now considered one of the top elementary schools in the state and has received an ‘A’ rating on its Progress Report for the last five years, placing it in the top 20 percent of elementary schools in New York City under school principal Sheila Durant.

While Durant was assistant principal, she and former P.S. 69 principal Alan Cohen introduced the Reggio Approach program to the pre-kindergarten classes of the school.

The Reggio Approach, a program developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy after World War II, introduces children based to the principles of respect, responsibility, and community, through exploration and discovery of their surrounding environment.

The program has been used at the school for three years now and under Sheila Durant’s leadership, the school has been able to extend the program not only in its two pre-kindergarten classes, but one of the kindergarten classes and both first grade classes.

According to Durant, the school has even implemented teaching the Italian language into their academic program, and on Tuesday, March 29 and Wednesday, March 30, P.S. 69 was host to a city-wide conference on ways to infuse the Reggio Approach in any New York City Public School.

The conference was held in the school’s auditorium and welcomed special guests speakers Lella Gandini, co-author and co-editor of “The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education,” and Jennifer Strange, who has been studying the Reggio Approach for over 20 years and sits on the board of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance.

Guest speakers made presentations and then watched presentations from the P.S. 69 teachers who have incorporated the Reggio Approach into their lesson plans.

“My goal is to get any child involved in the Reggio Approach,” Durant said. “I want other schools to feed off of what we have been able to do here at P.S. 69. We invite others to take part in the wonders of this special program.”

School Specialty, which supplies educational products, programs and services to schools and educators, has collaborated with P.S. 69 in being able to provide funds and products in helping to run the Reggio Approach program at the school.

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