Transit Tech Career and Technical Education High School

1 WELLS STREET
BROOKLYN NY 11208 Map
Phone: (718) 647-5204
Admissions: educational option/selective
Wheelchair accessible
unzoned
vocational
alternative
Noteworthy
Noteworthy Special Education
Principal: MARLON BYNUM
Neighborhood: East New York
District: 19
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: JANICE JONES

What's special:

Students prepare for a wide variety of jobs at the Metropolitan Transit Authority after graduation

The downside:

Those in the computer science track may want to learn more programming languages

The InsideStats

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Our review

At Transit Tech, students learn to repair and maintain subway trains, take apart electrical motors and fix computers. It's a good school for students who may want to start a career at the Transit Authority without going to college first.

Even in a weak economy, said one teacher, "there's not enough qualified people coming out." In its effort to fill that need, Transit Tech offers a partnership with the MTA, teachers who seem excited about the program and impressive equipment. The centerpiece is the railcar lab, a two-story space said by some to be the city's largest classroom. In it, two subway cars sit about six feet off the floor, enabling students to work on them. The school also has computers -- although no Macs -- for students to practice repairing and about 30 electrical education trainers.

Students explore the six technical options in the 9th and 10th grades and then select one at the end of their sophomore year. They concentrate for the next two years, taking a triple shop period in their senior year to prepare for the comprehensive exam in their area of specialization. They must fulfill the other state requirements for a diploma as well.

While geared toward employment, school staff say the program engages even students who don't plan to make a career of their track. It helps them connect the classroom and the outside world, for example using trigonometry to figure out angles for pipes

And the equipment, including those subways cars, is a selling point. "The kids get excited. It's a total motivation," the teacher said. "Every day I look forward to coming to school," one boy told us.

Several seniors said they saw value in learning a marketable skill whether or not they plan to use it. "I wasn't confused when I came here," said one who is looking at other possibilities for his future. "Given the way the economy is going, this is a great backup plan."

That said, Transit Tech has limited course offerings in other areas, providing basic academic and several AP classes but few arts offerings and only one language (Spanish). Some of the academic classes can seem elementary when compared with the technical classes. While shop classes can have no more than 28 kids, other classes are packed.

The graduation rate is substantially higher than the city average -- an accomplishment given that Transit Tech attracts many male students with low test scores.

The school has a college office but the counselor must divide her time between college counseling and other guidance work. Teachers provide career help for students seeking jobs. Of the students who go to college, a large number attend two-year or technical schools.

Transit Tech has a metal detector and surveillance cameras. Because of that, an assistant principal, said, "the kids don't have a chance to do anything" in the building. Outside the door, though, students have complained of feeling unsafe in the school's East New York neighborhood, prompting the police to add patrols. The elimination of a bus line that went by the school has heightened the concern.

The location and the school's emphasis contribute to a lopsided ratio of boys to girls, although the school says it seeks to attract female students.

Transit Tech has 19 teams. The gym recently got a renovation including new bleachers and a scoreboard.

Special education: Some 200 students receive special ed services in self-contained and team teaching classes and resource rooms from 15 special ed teachers.

All shop areas are open to special ed students although students with physical disabilities may not be eligible for employment in some areas. The school tries to mix special education and general education kids in the small groups that are the basis of many shop classes. "We've had above average success with that," assistant principal Paul Tropiano said. "They feed off each other." The graduation rate for special ed students, though, remains fairly low.

Admissions: The school has seen its applications decline in recent years. Admission to most programs is screened. (Gail Robinson, April 2012)

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