West Brooklyn Community High School
BROOKLYN NY 11219 Map
West Brooklyn Community High School
West Brooklyn Community High School helps disillusioned students reengage in high school and plan for graduation and beyond. By capping classes at 25 and pairing each family with an advocate counselor, the school tries to offer personal attention and motivation that most students can’t find at a mainstream school.
Principal Gloria Rosario runs the school in tandem with Director Stephen Marcus of Good Shepherd Services, a nonprofit organization that lends support to the school. A former lead teacher in social studies and assistant principal at West Brooklyn, Rosario—a graduate of Bank Street College of Education—was on the original planning team for the school. She believes that safety and diversity distinguish West Brooklyn from its peers. “We work hard at safety by having lots of conversations with kids and letting students mediate potential problems. I think our racial diversity really makes that happen, because kids want to protect the unique environment we have.”
The small, three-story building was formerly a parochial school run by the convent next door. All classes have SMART Boards and two stationary desktops; in addition, a cart of 25 laptops is available for each floor. The school library is open to all students and teachers and doubles as a classroom for English Language Arts. A well-kept science lab gives students of forensics, physics and biology a quiet place for hands on work.
Preparation for Regents is intensive. Students take diagnostic exams in school before the real tests and can also take advantage of Monday and Thursday office hours specifically for Regents prep. Twelve Saturdays are set aside during the year for extra preparation.
Extracurricular choices fluctuate year-to-year says Rosario, but with the hiring of a new physical education teacher in 2013, she hopes to create an intramural sports league. Students seem particularly eager for volleyball and soccer, she says. Theater, dance, and drumming are available electives in the last period of the day and a partnership with WNYC enables kids to produce their own radio segments.
Through the school’s Learning to Work program, a youth internship coordinator works with students to outline interests and hobbies, career plans, and develop necessary job-related skills. Students are placed in internships all over New York City including car dealerships, daycare facilities and the Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The Youth Leadership Board (YLB) also provides an opportunity for students to work together on school-wide issues, initiate community service projects, and develop a stronger relationship with school administration. Students must complete an application process and be recommended by a staff member.
A majority of students apply to college, says Rosario, and most end up at nearby Kingsborough Community College with which West Brooklyn has a good working relationship. Some kids choose to work right away, and then come back after a few years when they want to try for college. “We have an open door policy for alumni,” she says. “We’ll help them with college applications even years after graduation.”
Special education: The school offers SETSS.
Admissions: Interested students ages 16–20 must complete a reading assessment that demonstrates at least 6th-grade proficiency, followed by an interview with an academic counselor. A family interview is the final step in the application process along with a math exam that is purely for placement. (Aimee Sabo, phone interview, October 2013)