John J. Pershing (J.H.S. 220)
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Collaboration with nearby Maimonides Medical Center
The school struggles to raise its reading scores
Housed in a red brick building with tall white columns flanking its main entrance, JHS 220 John J. Pershing is located near Maimonides Medical Center in Sunset Park. The hospital provides enrichment and community service opportunities to students, introducing them to different science and medical careers. In the heart of a diverse community of immigrants from Latin America and China, more than one-third of the school’s 1,500-plus student population are English Language Learners.
Test scores at JHS 220 have improved in recent years, but are still low compared to the city and other middle schools in District 20. One bright spot is the math scores of the English Language Learners, who outperform similar students in other schools, according to the School Quality Guide. More advanced students may take the Living Environment, Algebra and Spanish Regents exams for high school credit.
The school does a good job creating an inclusive, positive learning environment for all types of learners and their parents, says the School Quality Review. The school provides several parent resources, including English as a New Language classes and access to the school-based health center. Principal Sheldon Dempster, who took the helm in 2017-18, got high marks on school surveys in his first year for creating a strong sense of community at the school; but other survey results reveal some concerns about bullying, discipline and student behavior.
The school offers visual art and music to all students and is working on expanding their dance and drama offerings, according to the Arts in Schools Report. It also offers a “comprehensive architectural program” for all 7th graders in partnership with Maimonides Medical Center, in which students prepare floor plans and scale models, and ten finalist teams present their designs to a panel of professional architects in Manhattan. Another partnership with Broadway Juniors helps the students to participate in a school musical production each year, according to the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan.
Students may play outside during recess in a school yard built in 2005 by the Trust for Public Land. It includes a track that circles around a basketball court, a volleyball court, an outdoor classroom area and open space for community use.
Admissions: Neighborhood school with two additional programs open to students across District 20 and a small Spanish Dual Language open to all in Brooklyn. (Nicole Mader, web reports, March 2019)