Bushwick Community High School
Llermi Gonzalez, PRINCIPAL
231 PALMETTO STREET, BROOKLYN, NY 11221Phone: 718-443-3083
School Name, Number, or Address
Mission The mission of Bushwick Community High School (BCHS) is for students to become empowered for positive social transformation and liberation. We educate and inspire our students to positively transform themselves, their local communities and their world at large. Graduates of our school will be critical, analytical and independent thinkers. They will become lifelong learners who have an awareness of, as well as a dedication to their own cultures and the cultures of others. VisionBCHS is organized around our conviction that college should be encouraged for ALL our students, and therefore every student should be thoroughly prepared for this challenge with a rigorous academic program. We emphasize the preparation of ethically and socially responsible leaders who strive to set the highest standards.
BCHS also provides highly personalized guidance and support. We help students to transfer their personal liberation to the community as a whole. Through creating a safe, caring and disciplined environment with a culture of high expectations and through forming personal bonds of trust and respect with the students, BCHS succeeds with students where their previous schools have failed. Culture
Our school community is united by genuine caring and commitment to each other and our common purpose. Each member should exhibit respect and concern for others ad be supported and encouraged throughout their time in our school. These values are reinforced through a curriculum that respects students? ethnic and cultural identities, our advisory program, school wide town meetings and special events.
In 1980, then – New York City Schools Chancellor Frank Macchiarola started alternative schools to serve dropouts or kids on the verge of leaving school, many of whom have a record of disciplinary problems and too few credits to get into other programs like night schools.
Housed on the third floor of a junior high school, BCHS used to be one of six alternative programs of its kind. Formerly known as Bushwick Outreach, it served the community for twenty four years by providing classes, Regents examinations and transcript preparation for its students. Bushwick Outreach boasted a 70 - 80 percent graduation rate, more than other alternative high schools at the time. While only a few students finished on the traditional four-year timeline, the school graduated over 100 students a year, nearly one-third of its student body. At nearby Bushwick High School, the four-year graduation rate in 2001 was just 24 percent.
As a result of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Education officials quietly pushed a plan to reorganize the six alternative high schools for the system's oldest and hardest-to-serve students – a plan that would eliminate seats for older students. The NCLB Act barred schools that did not grant traditional diplomas from receiving federal funding. Bushwick Outreach had specific graduation requirements but did not issue diplomas; to get one, students had to bring their Outreach transcripts to the school they previously attended.
Bushwick Outreach became targeted as one of the city’s programs to be restructured into an official New York City public school. Teachers of Outreach felt a pressing need to keep serving the over-age and over-credited who would otherwise have no where else to go. Therefore, with the support of Make the Road By Walking, a local nonprofit, Bushwick Outreach teachers and students circulated a petition calling for an accredited, independent school at which students, parents and teachers would design a curriculum focusing on Latino and African cultures, and keep focus on older students. The campaign was a success, and the school was able to keep its doors open.
Partnered with New Visions for Public Schools, the largest education reform organization dedicated to improving the quality of education children receive in New York City's public schools and Manhattanville College, we continued to serve our older population and launched as a diploma granting formal public high school in September 2004 as Bushwick Community High School.
We believe that no student should "fall through the cracks," and therefore every student is assigned an advisor. Staff members work as advisors and are directly responsible for a small group of students. Advisors will seek to address the needs of the "whole student" by forming a relationship with students' families and monitoring their attendance and academic progress. Students and their families also meet regularly with teachers to discuss student progress. One of a Kind CurriculumBCHS not only teaches the core fundamentals of high school academics but also strives to enrich our students with an awareness of culture, community and leadership. By engaging students with topics and issues that directly influence their lives, teachers spark a desire to learn in our students. With a mostly African American and Latino population, teachers address cultural and community concerns and apply them to their lesson plans. As a result, students excel in their classes because there is a genuine interest and what they learn directly applies to their personal realities.
BCHS offers curriculum that is both interesting and relevant to the lives of our students. Traditionally, students fail to see the connection between what happens in the classroom and what occurs in their own worlds. Outside of school, the world is not neatly categorized into subject areas for an allotted period of time. Our curriculum demonstrates relevancy in the lives of our students. In an effort to make the curriculum alive and valid, connections are made between what happens in the classroom with what happens once our students leave. This is an authentic education, an education with real world application. Our curriculum builds on our students' cultural background rather than attempting to lump together or counteract them. Curriculum development is a coordinated, building-wide strategy. We believe that the hidden curriculum in many of our student's former schools have been a powerful contributor to the failures of our students. To meet the curriculum needs of our student population, BCHS offers courses in African History, Latin American Studies, Poetry, Crime fiction, Pottery, Film, Speech and Debate, Urban Studies, Civil Rights and Slavery. Even within "set" curriculum such as Mathematics, we have been able to incorporate relevant real world applications such as budgeting and financial literacy.
To take it a step further, we encourage our students to empower themselves outside of the classroom and disseminate knowledge they have gained into their communities. BCHS has a mission to ensure everyone who walks through our doors receives a high school diploma. However we also feel obligated to create leaders who will move mountains in our society.
Learning to Work
Mission of the Learning to Work Program at BCHSThe Learning-to-Work "LTW" Program is designed for Bushwick Community High School students in order to provide them with an empowering environment to develop strengths and skills, explore opportunities and grow as lifelong learners. The LTW program seeks to provide educational reinforcement, college and career assistance, career readiness through quality work in various paid internships. LTW combines these elements to help BCHS students build positive work habits; increase knowledge of specific career fields; gain leadership experience; develop life skills; and attend periodic health awareness seminars and LTW-sponsored events.Services Provided by LTW
LTW College and Career Seminar - Earn a ½ credit through our LTW College & Career Seminar course. This prerequisite course to the Senior Advisory class is only open to non-seniors. It is designed to provide exposure in all aspects associated with the college process. Throughout the course, students will complete mock college applications, be given an explanation of the financial aid process, take PSAT exams, write personal essays and attend group excursions to college fairs and tours.
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to make an informed decision about which college may be right for them. Students who are seniors must take a Senior Advisory class, taught by the BCHS College Advisor, in order to complete the final stages in applying for college. Those students who have taken the LTW college and career seminar course will have an advantage over those students who have not because of their prior prep work. In addition to the LTW course, students are provided with individualized assistance with the college search process and access to college application materials and resources.
LTW Internship Seminars and Work Readiness Workshops - These workshops are only open to students who participate in an internship. Upon completion of the workshops, students will have developed a portfolio containing their resume, cover letter, Thank You letter and Resignation letter. During workshops, interns participate in mock interviews, are provided with assistance with job applications and are informed of prospective careers.
Paid Internships - Open to ALL BCHS students; the primary purpose of the internship is to allow the intern to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in school to a career field of their choice. Under the careful supervision of the worksite director and internship developer, interns are placed in a wide variety of fields and are monitored closely. Students participating in an internship are also provided with a free checking and savings account provided by Chase Manhattan Bank.
Counseling Services - All students are able to access our individual college, career and personal counseling services. Students who elect to participate in the LTW program undergo a "follow-up" to the intake process provided by the school when they first enter. This process ensures that students are constantly presented with all of the resources they need in their development as young adults. Referrals to local social service agencies are also provided upon request.