Grantee Corner  |  New York City Community School District 28

A girl plays keyboards while a boy points at sheets of music on the music stand
PS 349 students engage in a Music and the Brain keyboard lesson

A group of students sit at a table with globes on it
PS 140 second grade students explore the world, connect, and share family origins

A group of students sit at a table with plates and bowls on it with plants in the background
PS 349 students prepare to make pesto from basil grown in the school’s hydroponic lab

A student works a video camera while another student behind him holds cue cards
PS 55 fifth grade students film a video blog for their “Infinity and Beyond” space exploration unit

Four students stand in a row next to their three dimensional art creations
MS 358 students raise awareness and present solutions about human impact environmental issues with student-created art installations

Two boys play cellos
MS 358 string students rehearse

Students and an adult stand around a table with balloons spelling out STEAM behind them
PS 140 students at the annual STEAM Olympics, Pi table

Todd Levitt, CSD 28 Project Director

The New York City Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in the United States. The Department serves about 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools, located in all five NYC boroughs and divided into 32 school districts. Community School District 28 (CSD 28) is a fiscal year 2017 Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant recipient. Located in central Queens, CSD 28 consists of 52 schools that enroll about 42,000 students in grades preK through 12. Four Title 1 schools—three elementary and one middle—are converting to whole-school magnet programs. 

PS 55, Maure Magnet School of Communication Arts, Technology and Multimedia in the diverse community of South Richmond Hill, serves 500 preK-5 students. A focus on technology and media fosters student creativity and builds 21st century skills. Grade-level, interdisciplinary project-based learning units include real-world challenges and multimedia resources that engage students in sustained inquiry work. All students have a voice, as they discuss, explore, and generate evidence to support their learning, and as they share their work through public presentations, exhibitions, and performances. Projects may incorporate blogs, ebooks, 3D animation and video production, 3D printing, computer coding, investigative journalism, and public speaking. Monthly family and community events align to themes and include topics such as Coding for Families, Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Challenge Night, Star Gazing, Long Story Short, Family Paint Night, Project-Based Learning Family Showcases, and Yoga and Meditation. School partners include Flushing Town Hall, Material for the Arts, Smartworks, Buck Institute of Education (BIE), and Columbia University Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC). 

PS 140, Edward K. Ellington Magnet School of Science, Technology and the Arts in Jamaica, Queens has the motto “Where Greatness Occurs, One Step at a Time.” The school serves over 450 preK-5 students and emphasizes a project-based, 21st century education. Theme-aligned curriculum promotes collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Students can become reflective, responsible learners, ready to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving world. Using science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) resources, students gain advanced skills to research and solve complex problems and exhibit projects at an annual STEAM Olympics Fair. Student, staff, and community learning are supported by a Media and Technology Lab, 3D printers, Google Classrooms/G Suite, coding and CAD software, robotics, and Promethean boards. School partners include Marquis Studios, Ballroom Basix, Studio in a School, Renaissance Youth Center: Music on Wheels, Project Recess, BIE and CTSC. In addition, PS 140 has a basketball team, STEP team, Magnet Student Council, and Swim for Life program. In coordination with Land for Public Trust and local politicians, the school designed and revitalized their community’s playground. 

PS 349, Magnet School of Leadership and Innovation through STEAM in Jamaica, serves preK-4 students and will be at full capacity in school year 2020-21 with the addition of grade 5. PS 349 cultivates future leaders through the Leader in Me framework, developed by Steven Covey. Students learn The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, principles that can guide students throughout their lives and help them to be lifelong learners. STEAM curriculum and instruction ignite imaginations and spark curiosity. Themed projects enable students to research and develop a business, act as a docent at a living history museum, design and build a chicken coop, engineer and construct character balloons for a schoolwide parade, and more—activities that provide opportunities for leadership, self-management, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and real-world problem solving. The school recently celebrated a new hydroponic grow lab, where parents and community members shared school-grown greens. School partners include Marquis Studio, Turtle Bay Music School, The New York Hall of Science, the Queens Public Library, and Studio in a School. 

MS 358, Magnet School of STEAM Exploration and Experiential Learning in Jamaica, opened in 2015. With New York City as a classroom, and a project-based learning transdisciplinary framework, students are immersed in authentic learning. Subject area teachers collaborate to create grade-level units that include a culminating STEAM project and a writing task, organized into themes such as immigration, advocacy, and resiliency. Students might learn about the affect individual decisions can have on larger social environments, past and present social justice issues, or the unique needs of veterans. Projects have included the creation of prosthetic limbs, blueprint design of community centers, and public service announcements and advocacy plans. All grade 8 students are introduced to courses such as algebra, living environment, and the career and technical education program Virtual Enterprise. Grades 6 and 7 students are introduced to dance, debate, and music. MS 358 has a Race and Equity Team and embraces culturally responsive teaching. School partners include Blue Engine, Broadway Junior, New Victory Theater, Burberry Inspire NYC for ballet, and Alvin Ailey.  

The CSD 28 MSAP project director is Todd Levitt of the New York City Department of Education. Mr. Levitt has more than 25 years of experience as a music technology teacher and district-level administrator. Since 2003 he has worked as a Magnet Resource Specialist, Magnet Project Planner, and Magnet Project Director with MSAP grants in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, Bronx, and Queens.