W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School

Phone: (718) 345-9100
Website: Click here
Admissions: Educational option by vocational program
Wheelchair accessible
Neighborhood: East New York
District: 19
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: KAREN SCOTT

What's special:

Fashion and vision technology courses, popular principal

The downside:

Poor attendance and low graduation rate

The InsideStats



Our review

W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical High School aims to give students the skills they need to get jobs after high school in fields such as fashion, hairdressing, broadcasting, medical billing or vision technology—that is, making prescription eye glasses. The small school serves a large special needs population and has twice as many girls as boys.

Maxwell has gone through some turmoil in recent years: the Department of Education twice threatened to close it for poor performance, once in 2009 and again in 2012, then changed its mind after staff argued persuasively that the school was improving. While the attendance and graduation rates are poor, the school does a good job with students who struggled in middle school, DOE statistics show. The DOE awarded the school an “A” on its progress report, reflecting students’ gains in performance.

Teachers are extremely hard-working and Jocelyn Badette, principal since 2008, is popular with students, according to a DOE report called a quality review. “Students resoundingly laud the selfless principal whom they say is ‘magnificent’ and ‘always keeps you on point’ and the tireless staff,” the quality review said.

Students in the vision technology program learn vision screening, the anatomy and physiology of the eye, and how to craft lenses, often fabricating new and replacement lenses for students and teachers.

In the fashion design program, students learn to make patterns with computers and create garments with professional sewing machines.

The school also has programs in cosmetology, health professions and communications.

Sports teams include boys' and girls' volleyball, basketball, softball, and tennis.

A clean, bright new building (annexed to the original campus) has ample space for classes and labs. Academic classes are for the most part traditionally structured, with desks in rows, and the teacher up front. The school uses metal detectors to scan students when they enter the building; Students we spoke with didn't object to the scanners, but said long lines at the start of the school day make some kids late for class.

College admissions: While not everyone graduates, some students have been admitted to the Fashion Institute of Technology, Howard University, Penn State and Syracuse, teachers told us.

Special education: About a quarter of Maxwell students have special needs. Some are placed in team-teaching classes with general education students and two teachers. Others are in self-contained classes. The building is wheelchair accessible.

 Admissions: Educational option. Students should apply to the particular program that interests them. (Helen Zelon, November 2008, Clara Hemphill, updated with news reports and DOE statistics September 2012)

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