Bedford Academy High School
Brooklyn NY 11216
High academic expectations and support, committed staff
Building is too small
College flags are the first things one sees when entering Bedford Academy, and they set the tone for the academically demanding, tight-knit school community. The building is spotless, and it's clear from the smiles and greetings that staff membersfrom the principal to the safety agentknow every student.
Staff and students work hard. Most students attend after-school tutoring four days a week, and they are expected to come to school for two hours on Saturdays. "We have to kick them out sometimes," said longtime parent coordinator Pamela Tate. Students told us that there is a lot of competition. Teachers work long hours too, often staying into the evening. "You think you've given your all," said one teacher, "and then you give a little more." "Teachers care a lot," said one student. Another added, "Teachers care too much."
The toughness is matched with a sense of family and responsibility. "If you're not prepared, then we've failed, and we're not in the business of failure," said Principal Adofo Muhammad, previously a teacher and assistant principal at Benjamin Banneker Academy and principal of JHS 258 and IS 143 before coming to Bedford in 2011. Students sit in his office during their lunch period to catch up on their studies. He teaches three classes, including a leadership class for male students whom he describes as "at-promise," not "at-risk." "We want them to be critical thinkers and leaders," Muhammad said.
Freshmen start in July with an intensive English, math and living environment preparation course. Students take most Regents exams in 9th grade. All students are expected to receive advanced Regents diplomas, and about half do within four years, well above the city average. The school offers nine AP courses, and all students must take four years of science and math. Electives include classes like black studies and sociology.
The small size of the building creates a challenge for programmingabout 40 percent of students on the school survey said there weren't enough activities and classes to keep them interested. The school has some clubs (such as chess, newspaper and yearbook committee), but students told us they would like more. "We have never been that school. Our focus is college preparedness," said Steve Burrell, a guidance counselor, who handles college admissions.
Every student must apply to one city school, a state school and a private college. Students have been admitted to elite schools such as Harvard, Brown, Barnard and Cornell. Penn State is a favorite, and many attend Wells College, Bapson, Howard, Hampton, Spelman, Lincoln or Delaware State.
The parent coordinator, who hugs and greets most students by name, is described as the "glue" that helps parents stay connected to the school. A member of the founding team, she acts as nurse, counselor and community liaison. Parents are very involved. They can access their kids' homework assignments and quiz scores online, and often exchange cell phone numbers with the staff. "The parents are on it," said one teacher.
Students may play sports and participate in clubs only if they have an average above 80. One basketball player said it was hard to maintain this average with training after school and on weekends. When we visited in 2011, a star basketball player whose grades dropped three points below the mandatory cut-off had been benched during the semi-finals in 2011 and watched his team fall three points shy of the title. "He didn't take care of his business, so he didn't play," said Robert Phelps, who is both coach and dean. "We didn't have that problem with him the next year."
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There is one special education teacher who provides SETSS (Special Education Teacher Support Services), mainly supporting students in class.
ADMISSIONS: Screened, with priority to students who live in District 13, and then Brooklyn. Students apply to one of two programstechnology and health professions. They must score at least a 2 on state ELA and math exams and have an average of 75 for the technology program and 80 for health professions. Exceptions are made, however, and family commitment to the school's rigorous demands is very important, the principal said. Interviews are also considered. In 2015 there were more than 5,000 applications for 89 seats. (Meredith Kolodner, April 2012; updated by Ella Colley, April 2015)
About the students
About the school
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About the leadership
About the teachers
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Programs and Admissions
Courses in fundamental and advanced technology; opportunities for our students to work with and learn from school partners in education and specialists in the field.
Introduction to health professions. In addition to required and advanced courses, students have opportunities to work and learn in state-of-the-art labs and facilities.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP Music Theory, AP US History
Boys PSAL teams
Girls PSAL teams