East Brooklyn Community High School
Partnership with SCO Family Services offers a high level of support for each student
Low attendance, no gym
East Brooklyn Community High School opened in 2009 to re-engage high school students who have been truant or dropped out. Operated jointly by the Department of Education and SCO Family Services, the school offers small classes, individualized programs, and extensive counseling for both students and their families to keep kids engaged. “We are intrusive,” says Internship Coordinator Darnell Hickman of this close-knit family community. “If we need to do a home visit to bring a student back, we will.” Despite the hands-on approach, keeping students on track is a struggle. "Attendance fluctuates," Hickman admits.
In its first few years, the school shared space with the Science and Medicine Middle School, despite widespread community protest. Now East Brooklyn stands alone in a modern building that was previously home to PS 219's pre-K and kindergarten classes. Here, students work toward graduation in a basic program of math, English and social studies while gaining work experience. AThe Learning to Work program, which Hickman runs, exposes students to a wide range of entry level positions in fields such as daycare, afterschool and health and beauty. Students also participate in hands-on internship-for-credit projects for the school such as the construction of a new science lab completed in the summer of 2013. A partnership with Dance Theatre Etcetera offers arts and music enrichment. As an iLearn school, East Brooklyn allows students to complete many programs at their own pace. “Students have a voice here,” says Hickman, speaking at the 2013 alternative high school fair, citing the many clubs that students themselves have founded and led such as printmaking, citizenship and mural painting. Sports are lacking, however, because the school has no gym. Regular field trips to CUNY and two-year colleges keep higher education in mind as a goal for all students.
Principal Patrick McGillicuddy, a six-year veteran teacher at South Brooklyn Community High School after which the school was modeled, encourages teacher collaboration across all departments. Extra writing support in social studies classes, for example, has served students well, increasing Regents scores steadily in global and U.S. history. Teachers meet twice a week to discuss student performance and classroom strategies to improve critical thinking skills.
Despite all the supports it's a challenge to get students to come to school every day. Attendance for the 2012-2013 school year was quite low, hovering around 67 percent.
Special education: Approximately nine percent of students have IEPs. The school offers SETTS and counseling but has no self-contained classes.
Admissions: East Brooklyn has a rolling admissions process. To apply students must be 16 and have attended high school for at least a year. After completing a basic reading and vocabulary test, qualifying students attend an interview at the school along with their parent or guardian. Prospective students should call the school and ask for Karen Lopez for intake. (Aimee Sabo, online articles and interviews, May 2013)
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Brooklyn NY 11212