Juan Morel Campos Secondary School
Brooklyn NY 11206
Strong arts, Yiddish-bilingual program.
Poor test scores and low 4-year graduation rate.
At Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, students can join an award-winning marching band, take dance classes, or catch up on missing credits in a school-run night school. The school, originally a middle school, expanded in 2003 to become a 6th 12th grade program, and expects to graduate its first high school class in June 2007. Unlike secondary schools whose upper grades experience an exodus of talented students after middle school, Juan Morel Campos flourishes in the high school grades. We saw students who were attentive and excited about their work. Attendance in the high school is higher than in the middle school, Principal Howard Fineman said.
Juan Campos has a strong visual and performing arts program, for which some high school students audition, but Fineman is emphatic that academics come first. \"We\'re a school for math and science and English and history and gym,\" he tells prospective students, noting that rich arts program is a \"strong supplement\" to Regents preparatory classes.
Fineman\'s focus on academics is important, because math and English test scores at the middle school are well below the city\'s average, and more than half of high school students attend night school classes to make up credits. But Fineman, who came to the city after spending several years as a principal of a school in Long Beach, Calif. thinks his teachers are up to the challenge.
Many of the school\'s faculty members come from the city\'s Teaching Fellows program, which places college graduates and mid-career professionals in needy schools. Teachers are \"interested and passionate about helping kids,\" Fineman said, adding that they know kids\' strengths and weaknesses, help each other plan and improve, and are open to coaching. For example, when it became apparent that students were having trouble describing math and science concepts with words, teachers worked together to build more word problems into the curriculum, he said.
We saw mostly quality teaching, such as in a 9th grade English class where students were eagerly connecting themes in The Catcher in the Rye, which the class had read together, to their independent reading. In a 7th grade social studies class, students followed established routines and launched quickly into a lesson that involved using laptops to research the 13 colonies. Students effectively worked together to simplify rational expressions in an 11th grade Math B class.
We also saw some less-than-exciting classes and lackluster student effort. A 9th grade living environment class had watched the movie \"Super Size Me\" and was discussing nutrition, but only a few students participated. Seventh graders in an English class seemed to struggle with getting materials together and completing reading logs. Middle school student-created maps of Brooklyn that had been posted in the halls revealed a wide spread of effort; some students had clearly put a lot of time and thought into their work, while others had scrawled minimal efforts on lined paper.
In many of the lessons we saw, students were quiet and spent most of their time listening to instructions by teachers. Fineman said there is \"tremendous student voice at the appropriate times,\" both inside and outside the classroom. A functioning student governmentwhich voted to change the school\'s colors and started a student storeand a fitness-based gym program also give students an outlet.
For the high school, students can audition in instrumental music or visual arts and, if admitted, are considered arts \"majors\" who take intensive courses in those subjects. Some of those courses are also available to the majority of students who are not art majors, but Fineman hopes to develop a professional writing program for students who do not want to major in art. Partnerships with several community arts organizations bring working artists into the school and connect students with arts opportunities throughout the city; students have shown their work at two galleries, one in Chelsea, the other in Williamsburg. There is also a dance program with an Alvin Ailey-trained instructor, a band program led by what Fineman calls the \"best band instructor in the region,\" and an additional music teacher.
Fineman wants to make academic courses more challenging. He plans to add Advanced Placement courses in the fall of 2007, possibly using online AP programs. A few middle school students participate in the Specialized High School Institute, which prepares students to take the admission test for Stuyvesant and the other specialized high schools, and a few high school students take college courses at Medgar Evers College. College advising begins in the 9th grade, and students take \"lots of trips\" to visit college campuses.
In the middle school, grades average about 150 students. High school grades are smallerabout 90 studentswith about half staying on from middle school.
Special education: In the middle school, there are \"self-contained\" classesspecial education students onlyin English, bilingual Spanish, and bilingual Yiddish, the only such program in the city. In the high school, there are \"collaborative team teaching\" (CTT) classes, in which two teachers, one with special education certification, share leadership of a class that mixes students with special need with general education students.
After school: In addition to night school, the school offers a host of activities for students, including student government, band, flag football, a step team, and dance. The school also fields PSAL (Public Schools Athletic League) sports teams.
Admissions:. Middle school choice process for District 14. High school: Preference to continuing 8th graders, then to students who attend an information sessions. Students audition for the arts programs. (Philissa Cramer, November 2006)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
Are students prepared for high school?
How many graduate?
Are students prepared for college?
How does this school serve English Language Learners?
How does this school serve students with disabilities?
Programs and Admissions
Fine Arts including painting, drawing, graphics and computer graphics.
Instrumental music, including participation in the Super Band.
Provides students of all ability levels with foundational skills in theater. Through regular practice, assessments, and performance students develop the skills to become actors and actresses in a variety of genres.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English, AP Spanish
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Handball
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Cross Country, Softball