Cobble Hill School of American Studies
Attractive building; focus on law and history
While on the upswing, school has a way to go
In the heart of brownstone Brooklyn, Cobble Hill School of American Studies offers students a choice of two programs: one focused on history and one on law.
In the history program, students may create their own exhibits on the history of the borough at the Brooklyn Historical Society. In the law program, they make take part in mock trial competitions at Kings County Civil Court. [See article and photos from The Brooklyn Eagle.]
The school is housed in a pretty, well-kept building with an inviting courtyard and gracious, airy classrooms. The building was originally an elementary school and hallways and stairwells were built for younger children's much smaller bodies. A tiny cafeteria means that the school must offer multiple lunch periods, beginning mid-morning. The gym, too, is very small and not suitable for team sports. The school has metal detectors.
Cobble Hill has had its share of struggles over the years, and the Department of Education threatened to close it for poor performance in 2012. However, the DOE ultimately decided to keep it open because it had demonstrated significant improvement since Annamarie Mule became principal in 2010.
The school is definitely on the upswing, said Kathy Pelles, an official with New Visions for Public Schools, the non-profit organization that provides support to Cobble Hill. The teaching is getting stronger and they are offering higher-level classes. Teachers help students develop perseverance and resiliency, she said. If, for example, a student gets a bad grade, he is encouraged to keep trying--rather than skip class the next day.
Pelles said the low attendance and graduation rates are at least partly a function of the large number of students with long-term absences who are assigned to the school. Kids are put on the register who never show up, she said.
Founded in 1998, Cobble Hill was one of several city schools sponsored by the non-profit Gilder Lehrman Institute, which promotes the teaching of U.S. history. However, the school is no longer affiliated with Gilder Lehrman.
Special education: The school has a large special ed population and offers both self-contained classes and team-teaching classes (that integrate special-needs and general education students). The administration is moving away from keeping students in self-contained classes and integrating them where possible. For example, a special needs child who is strong in math may be assigned to a general education math class, even if he has most of his classes in a self-contained room.
Admissions: Students are admitted via the educational option formula, designed to ensure a mix of high- and low-achieving students. (Clara Hemphill, interviews, news reports, August 2012)
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Programs and Admissions
Students have the opportunity to explore living history through the arts, the environment, literacy, and technology. Partnerships with the Brooklyn Historical Society and Weeksville Heritage Center enhance these expeditionary learning experiences.
Students are introduced to topics and professional opportunities in the fields of criminal, constitutional, family, and civil law. Students engage in legal research as they study current legal issues.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English, AP US Government and Politics, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Girls PSAL teams
Brooklyn NY 11201