Outstanding Grade School
By John Friia
The motto of PS 199—Jessie Isador Straus Elementary School, located at 270 W. 70th St.—is “Work hard. Be kind,” and Principal Katy Rosen explains the school strives to fulfill those words. Named after the former ambassador to France and president of R.H. Macy & Co., Jessie Isador Straus Elementary School offers a wide range of programs for children to broaden their horizons.
There are a few basic qualities that the school wants to impart to its students by the time that they graduate, including creating lifelong readers and writers and making students strive for the best. The school aims to do this in a warm learning environment.
“As a community, we place value on knowing our students and families on an individual basis and to work as a school to make sure each and every student achieves their full potential,” Rosen said.
Rosen has been the principal of PS 199 since September 2006 and explained that it is a great community where everyone gets along. “When I come to work, I feel like I am working with my extended family,” Rosen said.
One of her favorite aspects of the job is when she receives mail from students. “Their letters are always engaging and sometimes persuasive. It is gratifying to see the fruits of our daily labor in a well-crafted essay asking for more recess time,” Rosen said.
Seeking to enhance the quality of education for the students, the school partners with different organizations to expose them to fine arts and culture. Rosen explained that the school is currently partnered with Vital Theater, the New York Philharmonic, National Dance Institute, Landmark West, Lincoln Center Institute, Center for Architecture Foundation and Asphalt Green. In addition, there are parent-run programs, including a chess club and lunchtime book talks.
“PS 199 is a barrier-free school and as such, has a long history of educating children with special needs of all levels,” Rosen said. “We have an exceptionally outstanding group of dedicated and caring teachers who love their students and their jobs. They work closely together among themselves and with families to ensure that our students have meaningful learning experiences.” Many of the teachers remain there until they retire, Rosen said.
As is the case at many schools throughout the city, government aid to the school has been drastically cut, and parents of the community want to help maintain the programs provided by PS 199. Rosen explained that the school is fortunate to have the PTA it does. The active parents’ group hosts numerous annual events, including a walk-a-thon, wine tasting, holiday boutique fair and talent show. She also said that the school wouldn’t be what it is without the dynamic and talented teachers and others who work there.
“Thank you for this award and the recognition of our very hard-working staff, which allows PS 199 to be the wonderful school that it is. I am thrilled to share this award with them,” she said.
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