High School for Service & Learning at Erasmus

Phone: (718) 564-2551
Website: Click here
Admissions: Brooklyn
Principal: Peter Fabianski
Neighborhood: Flatbush
District: 17
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: Pearl Cummings

What's special:

Lots of individual attention boosts graduation rates.

The downside:

Few AP classes.

The InsideStats



Our review

The High School for Service and Learning, one of five small schools on the Erasmus Hall Campus in Flatbush, deploys a number of adults to keep watch on issues outside the classroom that could affect students. That, along with a no nonsense approach to discipline and extra academic support, helps many students graduate who otherwise might not.

"It's a tremendous, tremendous intervention system. Every child feels they're being followed, that someone cares about them," says principal Peter Fabianski, who began serving as principal in 2011 and has been an Erasmus in some capacity since the early 1990s. "It makes us a unique school."

Many students arrive at Service and Learning overage or with low test scores. The school's approach, Fabianski believes, spurs its students to graduate on time, most with Regents diplomas. The city awarded the school an "A" on its Progress Report. The city gives high marks to schools that graduate struggling students on time, even if they are not well-prepared for college.

Teachers focus on a particular grade -- or cohort -- and follow those students throughout their high school years. With the assistance of guidance counselors, faculty members "adopt" students. With an enrollment of about 420, Service and Learning has three guidance counselors and a college counselor. Counselors meet one-on-one with all students at least once a term, and the parent coordinator says she has an open door policy with students.

The school tries to involve parents. Students may resist, one counselor said, but she added, "When graduates come back they tell us, 'Thank you for getting my parents on my back.'"

The school day runs 9 periods, allowing for double periods of English, math or social studies, depending on the student. All 9th graders get a double period of English. In addition to providing extra instruction, the longer day allows students to amass credits on a timely basis.

While they may not take a full schedule, seniors have a fairly complete schedule of classes, with a writing class and pre calculus among the offerings available. Service and Learning has a forensics and law program, which includes classes and visits to a law firm. To try to expand its curriculum, the school shares classes, such as AP English, art and music, with other schools at Erasmus. Service and Learning also retains some of its service focus. Students have visited a nursing home, tutored at an elementary school and worked in a community garden.

Along with representatives of the other schools, Service and Learning staff sweep the halls. "We have zero tolerance for kids hanging out," Fabianski said as he confronted two boys sitting in the hallway seemingly with little intention of going to class early on a rainy Monday.

Students at Service and Learning, like those at the other schools in the building, get to celebrate Erasmus' past, play on its athletic teams and share some lovely facilities, such as the library. Some remnants of the building's more recent, less storied history linger as well. Although the schools was calm when we visited, students pass through a metal detector to enter the building, and many students say they do not feel safe on the Erasmus grounds.

Special education: The school has team teaching classes in 9th, 10th and 11th grade.

Admission: Unscreened, with preference to students who attend an information session. (Gail Robinson, May 2012)

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