The Brownsville section of Brooklyn is one of the most economically challenged communities in America. But something amazing is happening at P.S./I.S. 284.
Brownsville has two juvenile detention centers, but no traditional four-year high school. For the 481 students who attend P.S./I.S. 284, that is no excuse for failure.
“Success is for everyone, and it hits home,” Principal Keva Pitts-Girard said. “As long as you want it, and want to strive for it, even if you don’t want it, we try to expose you to it.”
Pitts-Girard and her staff do their best to make sure the children are not negatively impacted by their parents’ lack of resources.
“We provide eyeglasses, we have a dental clinic that comes in,” Pitts-Girard said. “We do all sorts of things to motivate students to ensure that they want to be here.”
They also structured the school day so being hungry won’t interfere with the learning for the pre-kindergarten to 8th graders.
“We open our school at 8 a.m. so that they can have a breakfast program. The good part of us being a renewal school is that we also provide a second meal before they go home,” Pitts-Girard said. “So they have breakfast, they have lunch, and then they get another meal.”
Some of the teachers and staff grew up in Brownsville and bring a personal passion to their work.
“I’m everybody’s parent, I’m everybody’s dad—so I lend my myself to everyone, each and every one of them,” Dean of Students Trevor Glover said. “Discipline does not come from bullying. Discipline comes from service.”
Some estimates put the number of adults in Brownsville who never finished high school at more than 40 percent, so the teaching strategy is to incentivize education. The students are constantly reminded that extra effort and doing well academically brings rewards.
“We have over 100 students that are going skating in Long Island on Saturday just to reward them for taking a step towards their education,” Pitts-Girard said. “They didn’t have to choose to come on a Saturday or during recess, but they came.”
FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers
PAPOOSE, Hip Hop Artist and Father https://twitter.com/Papooseonline
STATE SEN. JESSE HAMILTON, Democrat of Brooklyn https://twitter.com/SenatorHamilton
LA SHAWN PAUL, LCSW-R, ACSW, Founder and Lead Clinician, Social Work Diva http://www.socialworkdiva.com
QUARDEAN LEWIS-ALLEN, Founder and CEO, Made in Brownsville https://twitter.com/khwar_deen http://madeinbrownsville.org
KEVA PITTS-GIRARD, Principal, P.S./I.S. 284 http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/…
TREVOR GLOVER, Dean of Students, P.S./I.S. 284 http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/…