Broome Street Academy Charter High School
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Fresh new leadership
Not for students who want a big school experience
Broome Street Academy is a free public charter high school founded in partnership with The Door, a non-profit social service organization for at-risk youth. BSA gives preference in admission to students who are in temporary housing or foster care, who make up half the student population.
Physically nestled inside The Door’s building, BSA students have easy access to homework help, career assistance, counseling, legal services, a computer lab, a recording studio and more. They may even eat dinner at The Door.
“This is exactly the kind of school that New York needs more of,” said Principal Melissa Silberman. “It’s hard to be a teenager. There are a lot of students who have these kinds of needs.”
A former principal of Automotive High School, Silberman took the helm in 2018. She has a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, and two master’s degrees. She has launched two new programs at BSA: culinary arts and computer science.
Silberman hired thirteen new teachers in her first year and said she was excited to give the school a fresh start. She sought an ethnically and racially diverse staff that reflects the student body.
The staff increased consistency around safety and order and there were only three fights during Silberman's first semester, an improvement. “We’ve done a lot to change the culture and tone,” she said.
One in four BSA students have special needs. To improve instruction, teachers work with two high-quality district (non-charter) public schools to focus on special education. Teachers visit each others’ classrooms and provide feedback. Together they refine lesson plans for the most failing students.
Every Broome Street student is paired with an adult advocate who meets regularly with a small group of students to check on social and academic concerns. Staff meets weekly to address the school’s high rate of chronic absenteeism. A social worker is assigned to work on attendance.
Most incoming students have weak academic skills but high-achievers may take classes for college credit through Borough of Manhattan Community College. All juniors receive a full year of free SAT prep.
Silberman said she would like to “erase the digital divide” by providing one-to-one computers for all students but the school is not there yet. And, she said, while many teens flourish in a smaller setting, and transfer from big schools where they feel lost, BSA is not a good fit for a teen who prefers a big high school experience.
Admissions: Admission is by lottery with applications due in April. Priority goes to students who: have siblings at the school, are homeless or in temporary housing, have received preventive services from the Administration for Children’s Services, or have been in foster homes. The school accepts transfer students at all grade levels and some transfer in mid-year. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interview, February 2019)