Brooklyn Bridge Academy
A fast-track to graduation for older students at risk of dropping out.
Attendance is a constant issue.
Brooklyn Bridge Academy offers a fresh start for older students who are at risk of dropping out. Classes are small, and students say they get lots of personal attention. The hallways are bright and decorated with student work. Transitions between classes are smooth, and the atmosphere is orderly. Teachers were animated and students were engaged in their work in the classes we visited. Students told us classes are never boring and teachers don't yell. "I feel welcome to come here every day," one student said
The school operates on a trimester schedule, which allows students to accumulate credits faster than they would on a traditional schedule of two semesters a year. While a student in a regular high school accumulates 11 credits a year, students at Brooklyn Bridge may accumulate more than twice that many. "You're not wasting any time at all," one student told us. "They make sure you get your act together to graduate," said another.
Every student is assigned an advisor from the school's community support partner, Federation Employment and Guidance Service (FEGS), a health and human services agency. Advisers greet students in the morning, call home when they are late, and make home visits if they miss several days in a row. Students meet with their advisors in groups three times a week to discuss their academic progress, any issues they may have, and plans for college. (New teachers also have advisors, or senior teachers, as mentors).
A "Learning to Work" program places students in paid internships after school at places such as Kingsborough Jewish Hospital, libraries, bookstores, and pet stores.
Housed in the South Shore Educational Campus, Brooklyn Bridge shares a building with Academy For Conservation and the Environment, Brooklyn Generation School, Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School, and Victory Collegiate High School.
Founded in 2007, the school had a rocky beginning. Many students and staff complained of fights, particularly with other schools in the building. Principal Max Jean Paul, who started in 2010, seems to have resolved many of the problems, and students and staff told us the school is safer now. Attendance remains an issue, and the principal is working on ways to encourage students to come to school regularly. For example, students with good attendance may go on a field trip, or receive coupons good for ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.
Special education: The school offers Collaborative Team Teaching.
Admissions: Students must be at least 16 years old, and may enter with 0-11 credits. Students and parents are interviewed, and students must take a math and reading assessment and submit a personal statement. (Tom Jacobs, October 2010)
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Brooklyn NY 11236