Most students graduate on time in this Africa-themed school.
Some students miss many days of school.
Benjamin Banneker is an academically challenging school with an African theme. Most students graduate on time, and more than half are ready for college-level work. A parent described it on our site as a “close-knit community” with “caring teachers and students who want to do well.” The school has many college partnerships and opportunities for students, such as internships in New York University’s robotics program or at the Brooklyn Medical Plaza.
Students are accepted into one of four programs: humanities, media communication, pre-engineering or pre-medicine. The work of African-American artists, scientists and writers is interwoven into work and activities, and students visit the Lewis Museum of African American Histor and Culture in Baltimore.
“It’s important that students understand African culture and history, where they’re coming from, and historical achievements accomplished by people of African descent,” says Principal Kinsley Kwateng. “It gives them confidence.” They may study the life of singer Nina Simone or political leader Marcus Garvey, for example. An African-American literature course and an advanced course on the African diaspora also underscore the theme.
Not every class is centered on Africa. The Asian-American club helps a small but growing numbers of Asian students feel welcome and included, Kwateng says, and is for “other students who want to learn about Asian-American culture.”
Kwateng is Banneker's fifth principal since the school opened in 2003. One of his challenges is to improve attendance: Many students miss more than 18 days of school, interrupting their education. Kwateng says teachers speak with students' families one-on-one and hold workshops on the importance of attendance.
Kwateng’s goal is to increase rigor in the school, especially in the medical and engineering programs. Under his leadership, all students must take four years of math and science, and he is doubling the number of Advanced Placement courses.
The city’s quality review cites several areas of assessment and teaching as “developing,” the lowest rating. Kwateng says teachers are talking less and opening their classes to “student voices,” to ensure that kids learn to state and back up their opinions.
In addition to academics, students may participate in dance, sports and other clubs, including martial arts and marching band. The art studio is a light, airy space decorated with student work. A mock television studio located in the basement allows students to learn video production and participate in a citywide film festival. Students must maintain an 80 average to participate, Kwateng says.
The former factory building has some constraints: There is no auditorium where the whole school can gather; the cafeteria only holds 250 students, forcing four lunch periods; and the gym holds a maximum of 400 standing.
Most students and teachers report the school is safe and orderly on school surveys, as is the surrounding neighborhood. The Clinton Hill neighborhood has a “a sweetness” to it, a student wrote. “The people sit on their porches, in their yards, and up and down around the neighborhood and say… ‘Good morning… how are you…’”
A very active kinship association takes the place of a parent association and organizes town hall meetings, health events and community meals for kids in the throes of Regents preparation on Saturdays.
COLLEGE: The school has a guidance counselor devoted solely to college counseling. Alumni come in to talk with students, and the school helps out with scholarship applications and arranges college tours. Many students go to SUNY schools, such as Albany, Buffalo and Stonybrook. Historically black colleges are also popular, such as Howard, Morehouse and Spelman. Some students get into Ivy League and other highly selective colleges such as Princeton, Stanford and Brown. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, DOE data, interview, February 2018)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or Science
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
For students interested in all facets of learning; extensive literary, writing, and research courses to sample; interdisciplinary curriculum that includes technology, humanities, and social sciences.
Training related to the field of engineering; courses in math and science and the requirement of maintaining an 80 or above average in these areas.
An introduction to the health professions; intensive coursework in math and science and exposure to various opportunities in the medical field.
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Physics 1, AP 2-D Art and Design, AP Biology, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Environmental Science, AP Calculus BC, AP World History: Modern, AP United States History, AP Calculus AB, AP Drawing, AP 3-D Art and Design, AP Macroeconomics, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Research, AP Seminar, AP Psychology, AP Human Geography, AP Music Theory, AP Chemistry, AP English Literature and Composition, AP U.S. Government and Politics
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Indoor Track, Soccer
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Fencing, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Contact & Location
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Brooklyn, NY 11205
Brooklyn, NY 11205