Benjamin Banneker Academy

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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What’s Special

Challenging academics & welcoming environment in Africa-themed school

The Downside

Some classes lack spark

Our Review

Benjamin Banneker is an academically challenging school with an African theme and a warm, supportive environment.

Students arrive at the school performing at a high level and are accepted into one of four programs - humanities, media communication, pre-engineering or pre-medicine. Many lessons we observed were creative and encouraged student participation. African and African-American themes are interwoven with a traditional curriculum.

A sense of community pervades the school. Students, staff and administrators smile and say good morning as they pass in the hallways. Class changes are relaxed and orderly. Students feel safe and respected. "If I stopped a senior in the hall and asked, he would probably help me," said a 9th grader, with a hint of wonder.

Still, some of the classrooms lacked the energy and participation you would expect in such a selective school. An A.P. teacher animatedly related a lesson while two students dozed with their heads on their desks. The heads came up, however, as soon as they saw the principal. Attendance, 89% for the 2010-2011 school year, is lower than at other selective schools although at the beginning of the 2011-2012 year, it had come up to over 90%.

Deonca Renee is the third principal since Banneker opened in 2003. She did her student teaching at the school, became a math teacher, and moved up to assistant principal after going through the Leadership Academy. She has an informal and warm approach and greeted many students by name.

Although the school has grown much larger than its leadership would like, Renee said that students with different backgrounds and interests are still able to find their place. "We still have that feeling of every child belongs," she said.

The mostly black staff emphasizes African-American artists, scientists and writers while also teaching the standard curriculum. Students go on trips to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and to an African country. "It's not to separate them from anyone," Renee explained, while emphasizing that students of all races were welcome. "It's about knowing what their ancestors went through and their value in the world and in the community."

Students said they appreciated the fact that they were given a good measure of freedom as long as they kept their grades up. They described discipline as fair, although teachers reported a decline of order and discipline on the 2011 Environmental Survey.

The former factorybuilding has some constraints: there is no auditorium where the whole school can gather, the cafeteria holds 250 students forcing four lunch periods and the gym holds a maximum of 400 standing.

Importance is given to the arts as well as academics. Students can earn an Advanced Regents degree in dance. 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 making and participate in a citywide film festival, which Banneker students have won several times.

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 admissions: The school has a guidance counselor devoted solely to college counseling. Alumnae 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 student get into elitecolleges such as Princeton and Brown, but financial barriers often compel them to attend less pricey schools, the principal said.

Admissions: Students must have an 80 average and score 3 or 4 on state reading and math exams, although some exceptions are made. Residents of Districts 13, 14, 15, and 16 have priority. There are many more applicants than seats. (Meredith Kolodner, January 2012)

About the students

Enrollment
896
Asian
3.6%
Black
83.3%
Hispanic
9.8%
White
0.7%
Other
2.7%
Free or reduced priced lunch
68%
Students with disabilities
13%
English language learners
1%
Male
46%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
98%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
88%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
42%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
80%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
42%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
83%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
53%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
0.8
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
89%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
80%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
74%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
95%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
80%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
70%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 5 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 4 licensed arts teacher in Dance, Music, Theater and Visual arts

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
67%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
50%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
68%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
97%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
30%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
2%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
49%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
57%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
88%
63% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
55%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
91%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
92%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
88%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Humanities
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

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.

Media Communication
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

A hands-on approach to understanding mass media; opportunities offered to develop career skills in video production, journalism, media arts, and technology, with internships in various media outlets.

Pre-Engineering
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

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.

Pre-Medicine
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

An introduction to the health professions; intensive coursework in math and science and exposure to various opportunities in the medical field.

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP U.S. History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Indoor Track, Soccer

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Fencing, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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Location

71-77 Clinton Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11205
Clinton Hill (District 13)
Trains: N/A
Buses: B38, B48, B54, B57, B62, B67, B69

Contact

Phone
718-797-3702
Principal
Kinsley Kwateng

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