FDNY Captain Vernon A. Richards High School for Fire and Life Safety
Pathway to joining the Fire Department
FDNY High School, housed in the Thomas Jefferson Educational Campus, was designed to offer students a path to joining the city fire department. The school has struggled with safety issues, poor attendance and low graduation rates. The relationship with the Fire Department has not always been strong. But more students are getting their diplomas, and the graduation rate increased to 76 percent in 2012, school officials said.
The school is in one of the highest crime areas in the city, and students must pass through metal detectors when they enterl. Safety agents were courteous on our visit. There were deans and assistant principals from all four schools in the building helping at the doors. The New York Police Department has worked with the school to create a safe corridor to and from the campus.
Successful graduates may enroll in an intensive summer program and get certified to be an Emergency Medical Technician. EMTs are Fire Department employees and the position can be a first step to becoming a firefighter. Science courses emphasize fire safety and fire science, and students can learn the basics of CPR and what it takes to become a first responder. An English Advanced Placement class and College Now courses are available.
The school has sometimes had difficulty recruiting firefighters to travel to the school in East New York, but the relationship with the Fire Department is improving, school officials say. Fire Department officials sometimes come to the campus for demonstrations and to help teach courses.
Students and teachers report improvements in safety over the past few years on Learning Environment Surveys. Still, on a visit to the building we observed a very rowdy lunchroom. Most students, 80 percent of whom are male, said they felt safe in the building but also reported fights in the hallways and gang activity on the 2011-12 Learning Environment Survey.
Teachers give the principal mixed reviews on the same survey, revealing some tension between leadership and staff. City reviewers who visited in 2011 recommended professional development to strengthen teaching methods.
Nonetheless, the majority of students said they felt welcome in the building and that they felt that the adults in the building were looking out for them.
Admissions: Priority to students who live in the attendance zone for Thomas Jefferson Educational Campus or who attend an information session. (Meredith Kolodner, interviews and web reports, October 2012)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
How many graduate?
Are students prepared for college?
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Programs and Admissions
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams