Academy of Business and Community Development
MAY 2012 UPDATE: The Academy for Business and Community Development will close at the end of the 2012 school year. Plagued by low enrollment in both middle and high school grades, poor attendance and dismal test scores, the city decided to close the school completely rather than phase it out more slowly.
Of the 70 students who enrolled in 6th grade in 2005, only 16 remained as seniors in the 6-12 school and only one was on track to graduate, according to news reports. In its last year, there are fewer than 100 students in the high school. Remaining middle school students will be assigned to other District 13 middle schools; high school students will go to other schools.
Clyde Cole founded the school in 2005. He was replaced in 2010 by Simone McIntosh but her tenure has been marked by high staff turnover and teachers who mistrust her, according the school survey. Many students came from troubled homes and foster homes.
The building, the former home of JHS 258, now closed, houses a K-8 charter school, Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant Charter School, and a suspension center for middle school students.
2006 REVIEW: At the Urban Assembly Academy for Business and Community Development, an all-boys secondary school that opened with four 6th-grade classes in 2005, a morning "community meeting" sets the tone for the school day. Wriggly and restless boys clad in the school uniform of royal purple shirts with gold lettering calm down to listen to Principal Clyde Cole speak about everything from program changes to uncompleted homework. A student from every homeroom each one named for a local university greets the room and announces a highlight from the previous day.
The school was established with the help of the Urban Assembly, a not-for-profit group that, since 1997, has been behind the creation of 14 - and counting - small, public high schools in New York City. All have different educational approaches, but the 14 are united in their aim to get kids into college and have them succeed there. Urban Assembly Academy for Business and Community Development has opted for single-sex education because Cole feels middle school students can benefit from fewer distractions, and focus more on learning how to build a community. To strengthen its commitment to helping boys, the school has established partnerships with a range of private companies and not-for-profits that provide guest speakers and other projects. The school is also looking for more adult professionals to act as mentors to students.
Describing the business education and community development classes they are required to take, students we met told us emphatically that the school would help them get ahead of their peers in other schools. The teachers also seemed intent on acting as good role models for the boys, some of whom come from disadvantaged homes. When Cole asked for everyone's attention at the morning meeting, not a peep came out of the teachers, who stood erect and silently around the principal, not even to help quiet students. We got the inkling that they were modeling what is considered proper for the children, who calmed down fairly quickly.
Not that 6th grade boys listen to their teachers all the time. During our visit, transitions between classes were fairly smooth at the school, which plans to add a grade a year until it offers a complete middle and high school program. But students took a little longer than desirable to settle into class once they arrived, and in some cases, we heard teachers raising voices to get the students' attention. In one class, some kids chatted with each other while they were supposed to be working, and some had not finished their homework.
On the bright side, the students aren't afraid to speak to adults and participate in class discussions. In a humanities class (English and social studies combined) studying ancient Egypt, students exchanged ideas about the mummification of the pharaohs and had a long queue of questions for their teacher. She had projected on the wall an image of the stellar constellation that represented Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead. Every room in the school has a projector. The business technology room is equipped with a Smartboard and laptops.
There is a lot of writing displayed on walls; students say they have to compose an essay every week, and in class, they practice writing topic sentences and introduction paragraphs. Most student writing we saw filled up one to two pages, but sometimes much less. Students essays covered such topics as drugs and the clean-up of neighborhoods, as well as responses to business articles in The New York Times.
The school is currently housed in one hallway with a handful of classrooms inside JHS 258. (Ed Note: JHS 258 closed in 2009 and Leadership Prep Charter School moved into the building.)
After school: Students can join anime, art, chess, digital photography, writing, or entrepreneurship clubs, as well as take part in sports. All activities end at 5:00 p.m.
Admissions: Fifth grade students living in District 13 can apply. (Catherine Man, January 2006)