2019 Blackboard Award Honoree: Principal Katharine DeBenedictis

Photo by Andrew Schwartz

P.S. 198 The Isidor and Ida Straus School
Principal Katharine DeBenedictis
Grades Pre-K-5
1700 3rd Avenue

Award: Outstanding Principal

Describe your school’s core educational philosophy.

Known by our school community as “A Big City School with a Small Town Feel,” PS198 is among the most ethnically diverse in District 2’s Upper East Side of Manhattan. We are committed to preparing every child to become compassionate and responsible members of our community. We believe that personal and academic excellence results from opportunities that foster collaboration, creativity, and self-reflection. Our students are valued as diverse individuals, each with their own unique interests, experiences, and educational needs. Together with our families, we set high expectations for all students, and model what our children need to do to develop their self-esteem, sustain healthy friendships, and achieve academic success.

Tell us about a few of the school’s achievements or distinguishing programs.

Since 2016, our school has put forth tremendous effort to transform its culture into one of high expectations that are shared by students, parents and faculty. Our instructional programming has strengthened tremendously, and we see a steady and impressive rise in student outcomes. We attribute this to the commitment of our staff in adopting a new instructional philosophy, challenging their own thinking with regards to how children learn best.

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What’s new?

PS 198 continues to promote collaboration, creativity and self-reflection through the launch of several new initiatives. This year we begin FIRST Lego League, a competitive robotics program that mentors students to develop science, technology, and engineering skills. For those students more interested in theater, PS 198 will put on two spring musicals. Children serve in different roles and learn to develop skills aligned to their special interests and talents. We offer opportunities beyond singing and playing instruments.

What do you love about your school?

Perhaps what is most special about our school is our sense of community. It is like no other. We love to party together! Whether it is a parade through the school to show our collective spirit, or a celebration of our kindergarten writers, PS 198 comes together frequently to support everyone’s accomplishments, big and small. It is not surprising to find staff or parents participating in a pie eating contest or water balloon toss. Our community thrives because we acknowledge that learning must be a joyful experience.