Chancellor Carmen Fariña called Broome Street Academy the “kind of charter school that we need more of” on Monday, praising the high school for its commitment to students with extra needs and its work with neighborhood leaders.
Fariña spoke at the graduation for the downtown Manhattan school, reinforcing her interest in charter schools that focus on high-needs students. The school, which serves many students who are homeless or in foster care, has been a favorite of Fariña’s since her first trip there last spring, when she called it one of her most inspiring school visits.
“I tend not to do graduations unless I feel personally involved with the school, because I always figure, who wants to listen to an older women tell them what to do with the rest of their lives?” Fariña said at the ceremony, held at the American Museum of Natural History. “But in your case, I feel I know the mission, and I respect the people who help get you here.”
Thirty-nine students graduated from Broome Street, which partners with the social-services agency The Door to help meet students’ out-of-school needs. That mission has drawn Fariña to the school though she has been skeptical of much of the city’s charter sector, saying that some schools do not do enough to serve students with disabilities or who are English learners.
Broome Street serves students that other schools would struggle with, Fariña said, but has also forged strong relationships with local precinct leaders and other neighborhood institutions. That qualifies it as a “community school,” she said, a model the city is working to expand over the next few years.
“I guarantee there’s no one on this stage that doesn’t know each and every one of you – not only by your grades, but by your family situation and everything else that goes with it,” she said. “I think that’s what I would really love to see at every high school.”
Fariña has incorporated Broome Street into some of her larger initiatives for district schools over the last year. Principal Barbara McKeon was appointed to a citywide advisory committee for community schools, and the school is also a host school through Fariña’s signature Learning Partners program, which is meant to encourage collaboration. The school was one of just two charter schools selected to be a host.
“You are also a school that is teaching others,” Fariña said. “I very consciously made you a Learning Partner school because there are a lot of schools that are trying to figure out what to do and you’ve already kind of solved it halfway there.”
Last week, Fariña’s also spoke at the graduation ceremony for Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School, a transfer high school that serves older students.