Bronx Leadership Academy II
BRONX NY 10451 Map
Bronx Leadership Academy II
Bronx Leadership Academy II has a strong sense of community, a young and energetic staff and a principal who seems to know every child. Class changes are orderly and students are animated and engaged in their lessons. A new building with spacious classrooms and interactive Smart boards provides an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. The average class size is 27, somewhat smaller than a typical New York City high school.
“The kids say it looks like a real school now,” says Principal Catherine Callaghan. “We also have our own cafeteria this year, which is a big plus,” she added. The school was founded in 2002 in the old Morris High School building and moved in 2010 to the Mott Haven Educational Campus, which also houses New Explorers High School, Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports, KIPP NYC College Prep Program, and a District 75 program. Students have physical education three times a week in one of three new gymnasiums. The campus has a regulation-size football field and 22 sports teams.
Callaghan, a long-time teacher and former assistant principal at BLA II, replaced Elyse Doti as principal in 2010. Callaghan hired a corps of young teachers – 80 percent of whom have less than five years’ experience—who are excited about working in the Bronx. “I have a really motivated, hardworking staff,” Callaghan said.
In the past, the academy’s small size has made it difficult to offer Advanced Placement courses. Now, through a new IZONE pilot with the DOE, 15 students participate in an online AP English class given by a teacher at a different high school, while a Bronx Leadership teacher offers another online AP class to her students as well as students from another school.
Most students enter BLA II reading below grade level. Even though the majority of students graduate on time, Callaghan hopes to improve graduation rates with targeted support in math and literacy. All students are required to take four years of math and four years of science. Every student now takes a college and career seminar and must apply to at least one CUNY college.
Attendance is a challenge, and staff members call students’ homes when they miss school. On the day of our visit, Callaghan herself met with a parent about his daughter’s absence. Another parent took advantage of the parent coordinator’s open-door policy to chat and drop off snacks for a parent meeting later that evening.
Special education: The school uses a co-teaching model, which allows for English Language Learners and the 20 percent of students receiving special education services to be taught in classes conducted by two teachers.
Admissions: There are no admissions requirements. Priority goes to students who attend an open house. (Cassandra Lizaire, October 2010)