Secondary School for Journalism
BROOKLYN NY 11215 Map
Secondary School for Journalism
UPDATE AUGUST 2012: A new principal, Jodi Radwell, promises to invigorate the school and make it more attractive to neighborhood parents. A Park Slope parent herself, Radwell is an experienced educator who taught at the popular School of the Future on Manhattan. She plans to reorganize the curriculum to include digital media. She replaces long-time principal, Abby ReIf, who retired. The school's middle school is phasing out because of poor performance. The school will only serve grades 9-12 as of September 2013.
APRIL 2012 REVIEW: The Secondary School for Journalism, housed in the John Jay Educational Campus, is an orderly school with some lively teachers. However, it offers a bare-bones curriculum with just one year of Spanish and no chemistry, physics or pre-calculus.
Despite its name, the school doesn't offer many courses in journalism. In 9th grade students get a double period of English, of which half the time is used for journalism. Abbie Reif, principal since 2001, says it's more important for students to get a well-rounded education.
In the years since Journalism opened, Reif noted, many journalists have lost their jobs and publications have shut. "The whole world of journalism is hard to break into," she said. "Not everyone is going to be the Channel 5 anchor. Not everyone is going to be Don Imus."
As a result, the school has largely abandoned its theme and is pondering a name change.
Originally designed to serve children in grades 6-12, the school never became a popular middle school choice in District 15. Because of low enrollment, in 2011 the Department of Education decided to phase out the middle school grades.
Although many students were absent on the day of our visit, those in class seemed engaged by interesting teachers on such subjects as the "alphabet soup" of the New Deal and Ralph Ellison's novel "The Invisible Man."
The school puts a premium on discipline. During our visit, a student lobbied through a teacher to go on a class trip, even though she had missed school. Reif dismissed the entreaties. "You have to do a job, and your job is to go to school," she explained.
The school has a partnership with the publishing house Harper Collins, which allows students to meet with editors and publish their own writing, and works with several poetry groups in Brooklyn.
There is a Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, and the school offers the Literature Advanced Placement class. Sports teams are shared with other schools in the building.
Journalism has seen its guidance staff shrink from three to one. Teachers help with college counseling. The majority of graduates attend college, with four-year SUNY and CUNY school popular choices.
Special education: Journalism has self-contained classes and support services for less severely disabled students, but does not offer any team-teaching classes. Reif says she does not believe in them.
Admission: Priority is given to District 15 and Brooklyn residents. Applicants are screened. That said, Journalism has not had huge numbers of applicants in recent years and more than half of the applicants are admitted. (Gail Robinson, April 2012)