clara barton high school

New York

Families seeking last-minute school spots flood pop-up offices

A family approaches the entrance to a student registration center at Brooklyn Technical High School. Each summer, the education department opens 10 registration sites around the city for students who are new to the school system. Patrick Chiriboga sought a public school spot after withdrawing from Catholic school after ninth grade. Brownsville's Rose Sistrunk wanted to enroll her daughters into new schools as the family prepared to move from a homeless shelter into permanent housing. And Canarsie's Kathleen Ettienne hoped her daughter would land in a school that was better than the charter school she had left. Chiraboga, Sistrunk, and Ettienne are among the thousands of parents and students who will pass through New York City's 10 temporary student registration centers this year. The registration centers opened at the end of August and will stay open well into this month to serve families who are still looking for schools as the new year gets underway. On the first day that the centers opened this year, Aug. 28, staffers stationed at Prospect Heights' Clara Barton High School estimated they saw 300 students. At Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus in the Bronx, that number was closer to 450, workers there estimated. Days later, there were again dozens of families lined up along East Fordham Road when the enrollment center opened its doors for the day. Department officials did not provide total numbers of how many students citywide passed through the doors at the registration centers last week, but site supervisors said they expected an even larger influx this week. Each year, about 50,000 students enroll in city schools "over the counter," or after the regular enrollment cycle, many of them in the first weeks of the school year. Many of the families are new to the city’s school system after moving from elsewhere or withdrawing from private schools. They are the intended targets for the registration centers, which also help families who are seeking to transfer schools within the system. The Department of Education's welcome mat “For a lot of these families, it’s their first experience with this bureaucracy and we want to be here and let them know that they’re not alone,” said Henry Eiser, who is working at Brooklyn Technical High School, one of three registration centers in Brooklyn.
New York

High schools market themselves with information and cookies

To attract the attention of the thousands of eighth-graders and family members at this weekend's citywide high school fair, representatives from the city's 500-some high schools pulled out all the stops — bringing current students dressed in nurse's scrubs or cheerleading outfits and stocking their tables with custom pens and homemade cookies. Some administrators who staffed the tables lining the hallways of the first seven floors of Brooklyn Technical High School aimed to inspire students to consider careers in health, law enforcement, or the culinary arts. Others faced higher stakes: To convince families to take a chance on an under-the-radar school. Because the Department of Education uses enrollment as a factor in deciding which schools to close, schools that attract few applicants could face dire consequences. Sheepshead Bay High School Geri Riley, a teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, passes out pamphlets and cookies to families. Sheepshead Bay High School's teachers drew families to their booth with homemade chocolate chip cookies. "My sister made them. I don't know if it's the cookies or interest in the school, but we're doing well," said Geri Riley, the Advanced Placement government and economics teacher, as parents stopped to eat and learn about the school's various specialized learning academies. Riley said enrollment at the school, which tops 2,000, is on the decline. This year, the school is undergoing "restart," one of four federally mandated strategies for low-performing schools, and a nonprofit partner is taking over its management. School for International Studies Sean Ahern, one of two culinary arts teachers at Brooklyn's School for International Studies, turned heads in his chef's uniform and hat as he passed out brochures. His job was twofold: to sell families on both the culinary arts and on his school, which is struggling to keep enrollment numbers up and even recruited a public relations firm this year to help convince families to send their children.
New York

Two Days As An Evacuation Center Teacher-Volunteer

I got the first call Thursday afternoon. A recording asked if I could volunteer at a shelter during the hurricane. Press 1 for yes or 2 for no. I felt a wave of the familiar not-working-but-still-getting-paid-teacher-in-summer guilt. I thought about the fact that I didn’t have kids and what my mother would say. I pressed 1, mentally crossing my fingers I wouldn’t be called to volunteer. That evening a voicemail message told me to report to Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn Friday morning for my 12-hour shift. I was in shock. I played the message for my roommates and they howled with laughter, especially when the awkward automated voice said “12-hour shift.” At this point, I didn’t know these calls were only being made to city workers. The next day I made my way to Clara Barton. I knew it was the right thing to do, and honestly, feared I might get in trouble if I didn’t show (the message was unambiguously in the imperative). There were about 15 of us that day — an industrious bunch — and we got to work unpacking the large bins that had been stored at the school for years for an event like this. They were filled with instructional videos and books, forms, walkie-talkies, flashlights, notepads, signage, batteries, tape, markers, pens, and more. Along with the three other teachers in the group, I drooled over this abundance of brand-new school supplies — particularly the oodles of Post-It brand poster paper (with the sticky back!) that every teacher knows cost 30 bucks a pop. Our schools might stop just short of putting campus safety in charge of supplies, but apparently the city's Office of Emergency Management had plenty to go around. We were to be an evacuation center: a place for evacuees to check in before heading to a “satellite” hurricane shelter. I ended up with the job of entering information on the website OEM uses to keep track of its staff and evacuees. By now I knew of course, that only city employees had been asked to volunteer. I wondered why there were so few teachers — most people were from the Human Resources Administration. Eventually I heard back from the teacher friends I had texted. Many of them had been contacted; they had all said no. Two were away, the rest were just not interested. I didn’t get the sense that anyone had refused out of spite for the Department of Education or the city; it seemed more that they weren’t keen on spending a hurricane working at a shelter.