The Boerum Hill School for International Studies
French dual-language instruction; International Baccalaureate program
High school International Baccalaureate program still too new to tell
Boerum Hill School for International Studies is undergoing dramatic change thanks to strong leadership, dual-language French instruction and the challenging International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Students enjoy a lot of arts offerings, field trips and a culinary program where they work in a professionally equipped kitchen and intern at restaurants and caterers.
Once an overlooked school in District 15, Boerum Hill is becoming a sought-after choice among local families. Middle school enrollment is skyrocketing—up from 50 6th-graders in 2014 to 180 in 2017—and parent involvement is on the rise. Both middle school test scores and the college readiness rate (percent of graduates who don’t need to remedial courses at CUNY) have risen sharply.
The vibe throughout the school is relaxed and friendly. Parents told us they’re impressed with how quickly their children are learning French and by the creative and collaborative class work.
Principal Nicole Lanzillotto, who headed Boerum Hill’s middle grades before taking the helm in 2017, encourages kids to have a say in their school. For instance, a group of students successfully argued to allow hats to be worn at school after studying the behavior code, reading and discussing the book, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood with staff and then drafting a thoughtful petition.
Students have French language instruction every day. In addition, science is taught in both French and English. Students participate in an after-school French immersion program where they develop their conversational fluency.
The IB program offers rich class discussions, thoughtful research papers and imaginative courses. For instance, instead of traditional English and social studies classes, students take courses such as “Individual and Societies,” “Language Acquisition” and “Language and Literature.”
Lessons in all grades emphasize skills such as communication, social and self-management as well as research and analytical thinking. In a high school math class we observed, students were discussing the importance of using graphs and charts to explain findings. Among their conclusions, visual representations transcend language barriers. In a senior English class, students were writing blog posts on topics they researched. “I like this kind of writing because I can express myself,” said a student writing about Eric Gardner, the Staten Island man who died in 2014 during an arrest by police for selling loose cigarettes.
In the “middle years program” (grades 6-10) each year focuses on a theme that’s reinforced across subjects. For instance in 6th grade, students focus on identities and exploration, studying topics such as globalization, sustainability and relationships across the humanities classes; in 8th grade math, a survey in functions is part of the grade-wide theme of how an idea becomes a movement. Tenth grade is a year of reflecting on how all themes connect, with studies on constitutional foundations, three-dimensional math modeling and writing for different audiences.
The IB diploma program is a challenging two years beginning in 11th grade culminating in completion of a year-long service project, a lengthy research paper and series of exams. Since the curriculum was rolled out in the middle school first and then expanded to the high school, the graduation class of 2019 (11th-graders when we visited) will be the first group to be eligible for an IB diploma.
Culinary arts is offered in high school, though 8th-graders are given an introduction to it. Students get hands-on training in the school’s professionally equipped kitchen as well as through internships shadowing chefs and catering events for the Department of Education and at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Students enjoy day and overnight trips as well as a nice range of arts, elective classes and after-school activities including sports. arts, chess, music, dance, theater and technology. Partnerships with an impressive range of organizations, such as the French Embassy, 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center, Brooklyn Historical Society and Urban Advantage help expand learning opportunities beyond the classroom.
The school is housed in a large building it shares with the Digital Arts and Cinema Technology High School and Success Academy Cobble Hill Charter School. Students may leave the building for lunch or enjoy recess in the expansive schoolyard with teen size climbing equipment, multiple fields and a basketball court.
There is a busy college office lead by a fulltime college counselor. Juniors and seniors get additional support from a guidance counselor dedicated for those grades. Most graduates go on to CUNY and SUNY schools and some attend private and out-of-state colleges.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT (Integrated collaborative teaching) classes on all grades plus SETSS.
ADMISSIONS: The middle school screens for academics (looking at grades, test scores and attendance record) and is open to District 15 students except for those screened for French language fluency who are admitted from across Brooklyn. The high school is open to students citywide with top priority to continuing 8th-graders and then to all of District 15. Admissions is based on an interview as well as a review of students’ grades, test scores and attendance record.
Boerum Hill’s demographics are shifting as more middle class District 15 families choose the school. In an effort to maintain an integrated student community, the school reserves 40% of it seats for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. (Laura Zingmond, October 2017)
About the students
About the school
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Programs and Admissions
Within the IB framework, students will complete core and interdisciplinary classes as they prepare for IB courses in their 10th-12th grades.
Under our IB program, the College, Career & Culinary concentration is a four-year, rigorous sequence of courses designed to train future chefs and small business entrepreneurs. Entering freshmen are programmed for introductory kitchen skills and entrepreneurship. All students entering are required to fulfill IB requirements and coursework. Our partnership with C-CAP prepares students to complete internships with local area restaurant chefs.
French, Mandarin, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition
Boys PSAL teams
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Volleyball
Brooklyn NY 11201