Brownsville Academy High School
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Family-like environment with small classes and high test scores.
Students who have previously dropped out of high school or struggled with truancy may find a haven in Brownsville Academy High School. The school works in partnership with the New York City Mission Society to give the city's underserved students the support they need to graduate. Brownsville has a strong record of As and Bs on Department of Education progress reports and very high Regents scores, although most students need to take remedial courses in college.
The building, which began life as a furniture factory and later was converted into a school, has limitations: There is no gym and the few windows overlook subway tracks. Nevertheless, the school does have a MAC computer lab and numerous SMARTboards and classroom computers, says Edrick Johnson, the program manager of the Learning to Work program. The schools 179 students have use of 34 classrooms, allowing them to spread out into small classes for more individual attention.
Brownsville seems to have flourished under the leadership of Principal Lashawn Robinson, who was principal between 2008 and 2103. [She was replaced by Assistant Principal, Kotwana Warren in 2013.] In 2012, Brownsville had Regents passing rates of 93 percent on the US history exam and 91 percent on integrated algebra. During Robinsons tenure, scores on global history and English more than doubled. The extremely high numbers raised some concerns in a New York Post article, however, and seem at odds with the school's low college ready and student performance rates; the school earned Cs in both categories for the 2011-2012 year.
In tandem with implementing Common Core standards, Robinson upheld the schools Diploma Plus program, which exposes teens to college courses, internships and community service opportunities. The model emphasizes a student-centered approach; once students have shown competency in a subject by reaching certain benchmarks and presenting portfolios of their work, they are able to move forward. The iZone program also gives student the flexibility of doing coursework online, making time for internships in libraries, fitness centers, and real estate and political offices. Johnson also works with kids to write resumes and cover letters and holds mock job interviews.
Course offerings and extracurricular activities are varied. Languages include Spanish, French, Latin and Italian, according to the 2012-2013 "Additional Ways to Graduate" directory. Debate and politics, model United Nations, forensic science, ceramics and studio art also top the list. Although it has no gym, the school competes in PSAL Alternative League Sports, offering basketball, tennis, step team and track.
Every student is assigned an advocate counselor provided by the schools community partners. The counselor makes sure that students stay on track academically, and supports them emotionally. It is common for counselors to proactively call students in the morning to wake them for school and update parents frequently about academic progress. Parent involvement is strong, according to the 2011-12 Quality Review Report. In the winter of 2013, parents and students joined forces and successfully stopped the DOE from allowing a Success Academy elementary school to share their building.
Special education: The school offers SETTS and counseling.
Admissions: Prospective students must be at least 17 years old and have 10 credits. More credits and Regents exams are required for older students, but exceptions are made. Students must attend an orientation and an interview with their parent or guardian. (Aimee Sabo, July 2013, interviews and Web reports; updated principal February 2015)Read more