Brooklyn Preparatory High School
BROOKLYN NY 11211 Map
Brooklyn Preparatory High School
Brooklyn Prep is a small high school with a strong arts program, supportive advisory groups, and lots of classes to choose from such as drama, psychology, sign language, guitar, chorus, and robotics – in addition to academics.
Students present and defend their best work through a portfolio process at the end of each semester. Writing is a focus in every subject, and the portfolios, kept in binders, include written reflections, projects, papers and tests.
Ninth graders take two English classes – one in literature, one in writing. We saw teens writing books about their neighborhoods at computer terminals. The writing was lively, with titles like, "Unwritten rules for a Puerto Rican." Art instruction is a strength. Two teachers oversee two well-equipped studios and offer a good selection of classes including printmaking, drawing, multimedia, studio art, street art, digital portfolio and experiences in 3-D.
The staff is committed to mixing kids of all abilities while supporting high and low end learners. Advanced 9th graders meet at lunch to do extra work to get honors credit for Global History and AP classes are offered. One said teachers, "try to push us beyond our limit and get us ready for college."
A 12th grade transfer student said she liked the individual attention she gets compared to her former school. "The teachers are more helpful," she said. "They ask you what's going on at home." This personal attention starts with advisory groups of about 15 students who gather three times a week to bond and prepare for college. The school day ends early every Wednesday giving teachers time to plan together.
The transition to new leadership was somewhat bumpy after the founding principal left in 2010, according to the Learning Environment Survey which showed a decrease in satisfaction in all areas, particularly discipline and school management. Seven teachers left the school, a not-uncommon occurrence when a new administrator comes in says Principal Noah Lansner. He hired a mix of veteran and new teachers to replace them and feels he has a "good fit" going forward. Six teachers have been with the school since it opened in 2004.
Teachers we met had good things to say about the leadership: "You really feel like you have a voice," said one.
Lansner taught high school science for nine years, at John Jay High School and Medgar Evers, before attending the Leadership Academy, the city's training ground for principals. Under his leadership the staff has added electives and created a more flexible schedule: kids no longer stay with the same group all day.
As for discipline, there were 121 suspensions in 2010-11, higher than at the other two schools in the building. To improve the atmosphere and communication, the school has adopted an online program called Skedula which helps teachers and parents track progress and behavior. Some kids attend lunchtime clubs, reducing the sometimes rambunctious behavior in the cafeteria. Special attention in advisory has been given to reducing tension before it escalates, the principal said. To boost attendance, a team of eight adults works closely with teens, offering support and incentives. Kids were chatty and moved around a lot in class during our mid-day visit, but we saw some skilled teaching and no classrooms were out of control.
The school shares the Harry Van Arsdale building with Williamsburg Preparatory High School and the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. Sports are campus-wide, and one student attends an AP Calculus class at Williamsburg Prep, otherwise there is little interaction between the schools.
The neighborhood and the school are quite safe but the building still has metal detectors. Cell phones are removed and given back at the end of the day.
There is a full-time college advisor. Students take two college trips a year. The majority of the graduates attend CUNY and SUNY schools.
Special Education: Four special education teachers work with about 80 kids who have Individual Educational Plans. Special needs kids are incorporated into general ed classes.
Admissions: Limited unscreened. Priority given to students who attend an information session. About 1200 applied for 115 spots in fall 2011. (Lydie Raschka, April 2012)