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Our Insights

What’s Special

Engaging work in a very supportive environment

The Downside

High ratess of chronic absenteeism

Lyons Community School provides a caring, informal and engaging environment for students who might get lost in a more traditional school. The combined middle and high school offers small classes, frequent class trips and practical projects such as woodworking to keep students engaged and attending school.

Principal Taeko Onishi, who co-founded the school with program director Jody Madell in 2007, dishes out high-fives and hugs to students. Onishi's desk is in a large open office that serves as a common area where both staff and students come to work during their free periods. Students call Onishi and all the other staff by their first names.

Lyons is a part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a group of schools exempt from administering all but the English Regents exam. Eleventh- and 12th-graders must complete PBATs (performance based assessment tasks) on topics of their choosing, which involve extensive research and reading as well as writing and presenting papers in English, math, history.

In all grades students participate in roundtable discussions at the end of each semester, where they reflect on what they learned and present their work for in-depth discussion.

Many classes are structured around themes. For instance, history offerings include classes such as world religions, global development and foundations in United States government and expansion; neuroscience and understanding animals are among the science options. English courses expose students to a broad range of literature by focusing on topic such as moral dilemmas, individualism, modern short stories and apocalyptic fiction. Math classes follow a more traditional sequence, running from algebra through pre-calculus. Computer science is offered as an elective.

A key part of student engagement is the school's field studies program. Students in grades 6 through 9 go on weekly excursions, such as to the Brooklyn Museum to study ancient Egypt. Onishi estimates that students go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art 50 times between 6th and 9th grades. Students in grades 10 to 12 may continue these field studies or take an elective at the school such as public speaking, forensics or zoology.

Onishi welcomes students who weren’t successful in other schools. To support those who arrive academically behind their peers, teachers aocus on helping kids to read difficult texts. All students have half an hour of independent reading each morning and the school offers small group support for struggling students. Classroom libraries are organized according to reading level rather than topic, and students are encouraged to challenge themselves when choosing books to read.

Lyons has high rates of chronic absenteeism and the school offers a range of programs to engage students who might be on the verge of dropping out. "We will do anything it takes to connect," Onishi said. For example, some struggling students take classes with two of the school's best teachers and in the afternoon, they participate in Urban Workshop, a program that focuses on community construction projects. There, students complete hands-on, practical work like building benches for a local park.

Teachers and staff use restorative justice practices, which aim to minimize suspensions and promote positive behavior through group conversations, reflection and corrective action. Discipline issues are often referred to the "justice panel," a group of students who determine the consequences of an action after questioning the offending student and other witnesses.

Lyons shares the old IS 49 building, including its gym, cafeteria and outdoor playground, with The Williamsburg High School of Arts and Technology and Brooklyn Latin. The three schools have separate lunch periods and arrival times. Students from all three schools may participate in campus-wide sports.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Lyons has integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes in every grade and dedicates a lot of time to students' social and emotional development through advisories and other initiatives. (Laura Zingmond, web reports and interview, October 2018)


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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2022-2023 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
80% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
51% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
77% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
0% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
42% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
51% Citywide Average

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many students graduate in 4 years?
91% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

Average daily attendance
86% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
45% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2023 End-of-year Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Report

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
84% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
77% Citywide Average

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
7% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2024 High School Directory

Lyons Community School (L39A)

Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.


From the 2024 High School Directory

Language Courses


Advanced Courses

Algebra II (Advanced Math), Chemistry (Advanced Science), World Languages (Advanced World Languages)

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Outdoor Track, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Cross Country, Outdoor Track, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on NYCDOE’s MySchools

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


223 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11206

Trains: G Line to Broadway; L Line to Grand St

Buses: B24, B43, B46, B48, B60, Q54, Q59


Principal: Karen Onishi

Parent Coordinator: Minerva Cantor


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with the Brooklyn Latin School and Williamsburg High School of Art and Technology

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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