Thomas Jefferson Educational Campus
The Thomas Jefferson High Educational Campus houses four small schools that share sports teams, a garden, a health center, a library and cafeteria. The local police precinct has joined forces with school officials to help shepherd students safely to and from this East New York building. Security is tight and all students must pass through metal detectors, but guards are courteous and veterans agree that the building has become much safer.
Thomas Jefferson High School was closed in 2007 for poor performance and renamed the Thomas Jefferson Educational Campus. Staff in all the schools work hard to create a warm vibe where students are known and welcome. They are also serious about maintaining discipline and have developed a campus-wide system for security. While there was some lingering in the hallways, a whiff of marijuana in a stairwell and one rowdy lunch period, classrooms are nowhere near as disruptive as they were during our 2005 visit. Students were mostly attentive and were respectful towards adults and one another.
Still, the staff must work hard to keep students coming to school and keep them on track. Graduation rates have been creeping up, but attendance still lags.
Performing Arts and Technology High School has an excellent dance program and a much-improved theater and music program as well as a committed core of teachers.
World Academy for Total Community Health (WATCH) provides numerous internships, social and academic supports and a nursing career track.
High School for Civil Rights has added law to its theme and has an onsite courtroom that hosts real trials.
The FDNY High School for Fire and Life Safety gives students the chance to prepare for a career in the FDNY and elsewhere.
Many students come to Jefferson schools for the sports, and several girls and boys teams have won championships. Getting some students interested in the schools' themes can be challenging, principals say. But for students who want to pursue a career and/or college, there are many opportunities and a large number adults who will go the extra mile to help students succeed. (Meredith Kolodner, May 2012)