Education news. In context.
Diversity & Equity
Politics & Policy
Teaching & Classroom
Student & School Performance
Leadership & Management
Charters & Choice
Find a Job
How to be a Chalkbeat source
Republish Our Stories
Code of Ethics
Our News Partners
Work with Us
William Grady High School
June 27, 2013
Grady seniors, principal leave together after stormy reform effort
Principal Geraldine Maione addresses seniors at Grady's 2013 commencement ceremony. In an emotional goodbye to teachers and graduating seniors at William Grady Career & Technical High School on Tuesday, Principal Geraldine Maione disclosed — for the first time, she said — how she landed on her feet at the school three years ago. "The only reason I'm here at Grady is because of your president, my president, and my friend: Michael Mulgrew," Maione said, referring to the head of the United Federation of Teachers union. She was speaking under a tent set up on Grady's football field, which overflowed with family members of the more than 150 students who walked in the graduation ceremony. The event marked the end of school not only for seniors at Grady, but for Maione, too. After 20 years as a history teacher and principal, Maione is retiring, having spent three years as Grady's leader. The event also capped a tumultuous period for the Brighton Beach school, which was caught in the middle of a lengthy labor fight that ended with student enrollment down significantly. "Please know that you gave so much back to me," Maione told the students while giving out awards she created more than a decade ago in memory of her two sons, who died in 1999. "I would have never been able to live these last 14 years if it wasn't for all the thousands of children that I have."
March 5, 2012
At HS fair, turnaround schools struggle to define themselves
Paul Heymont, a social studies teacher at Automotive High School, shows off the list of sports and clubs on offer at the Brooklyn school. It's hard to get students interested in your school when, according to the city's "turnaround" plan, it might not exist in the fall. That's what Deborah Elsenhout, a guidance counselor at Banana Kelly High School, reasoned when droves of families walked right past her booth at last weekend's Round 2 High School Fair, toward the hallway reserved for new schools opening in the fall. As one of 33 schools proposed for the "turnaround" school reform model, Banana Kelly is waiting to learn whether it will shut down this June, to reopen in the fall with the same students but a new name and a staffing overhaul. Students who apply to the 25 high schools on the turnaround list would automatically be transfered to the new schools that would replace them. Elsenhout said she either glossed over the turnaround situation to families who did stop, or didn't mention it at all. But it's hard, she noted, to advertise a school without a name. "We do have a rigorous academic curriculum and a strong connection with the community," she said. "But there's a sadness, knowing people will be losing their jobs." Teachers at many of the turnaround schools have expressed persistent confusion about the plan and its implication for their students. They also found it posed a dilemma at the fair, where 270 schools were given a weekend to pitch their programs, new and old, to hundreds of eighth-graders who were not accepted at their top-choice high schools during the city's main admissions process. Some teachers reassured families their schools weren't going anywhere, but others said the schools were already gone.
February 13, 2012
A student walkout starts week of "turnaround" protest at Grady
Grady High School students protest the city's "turnaround" plan after a walkout today. A new phase in school closure protests opened today as hundreds of students at William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School walked out of classes this afternoon to protest the city’s plan to “turn around” the school. The plan, which Mayor Bloomberg announced last month as a way to obviate negotiations about teacher evaluations with the teachers union, would require Grady to be closed and reopened with a new name and at least half of the teachers replaced. Grady is one of 33 struggling schools facing turnaround this year. Grady students were the first to hold a closure protest since Thursday’s massive Panel for Educational Policy, where thousands of protesters railed against 23 school closure proposals that were approved. Now the city’s attention is shifting to the turnaround schools, whose closures are likely to come before the panel in April. Department of Education officials explained the plan to confused students and parents at the Brighton Beach school late last month. There was little confusion today as students executed a protest that was tightly scripted by members of the student government. After a rally on the sidewalk outside the school, students marched around Grady on a path that abutted the Shore Parkway and passed a police substation. Their cries of "Save our school!" caused neighborhood residents to lean out of windows and elicited a honk of support from an ambulance driver parked outside a home for the elderly.
January 31, 2012
At Grady, parents probe distinction between closure, turnaround
The entrance of Brighton Beach's William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School. Is the school being closed, or is it staying open? Parents repeated variations of that question often over the course of a two-hour-long meeting Department of Education officials held at William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School Monday evening to detail the city's plan to overhaul the school. The answer, they were told, was more complicated than a matter of semantics. "This school is not being closed," Aimee Horowitz, the school's superintendent, told families, teachers, and the School Leadership Team in three meetings at the school over the course of the day. But she also said a new school with a different name would be opening in the building in the fall, and just half of Grady's current teachers would remain. Those are the conditions of the school improvement model known as "turnaround," she explained. Mayor Bloomberg announced earlier this month that the city would use turnaround at 33 struggling schools so that they could continue receiving federal funds even if the city and teachers union do not agree on new teacher evaluations. Since 2010, Grady had been undergoing a different federally mandated overhaul process, "transformation," which relies on changing leadership, bringing in extra support services, and experimenting with longer school days and new teacher training. The details Horowitz outlined were puzzling for several of the 40 parents and students who crowded into Grady's cafeteria to learn about the turnaround plan. "First you say in your speech that the school was going to do transformation. And then as you go on you started saying things like, this is going to be a new school. So where are we, which one should we believe?" said Ade Ajayi, whose son is a junior. "A lot of things are going to change. Teachers are going to change. We don't even know if the name is going to be the same."
January 30, 2012
Union Square rally set to protest week's school closure hearings
Students and teachers from two high schools on the city's chopping block are planning to join in protest on Wednesday — and they're asking their allies from across the city to join in. The Union Square rally comes during the final week of hearings before the Panel for Educational Policy, which has never rejected a city proposal, votes on 25 school closure proposals Feb. 9. Students at Manhattan's Legacy School for Integrated Studies are planning to walk out of their classes and head for Union Square just four hours before their school's closure hearing. The walkout is the latest in a series of high-profile protest actions that have included a phone-banking session and a guerrilla appearance on "The Today Show" — activities chronicled in a video posted to YouTube over the weekend by the Save Legacy Coalition.
January 26, 2012
At turnaround schools, wide range in college readiness rates
Click on the chart for an expanded view. A handful of the high schools the city wants to "turn around" are already doing a better-than-average job at preparing students for college.
January 25, 2012
As some schools protest turnaround plans, others wait and see
Two weeks after receiving the surprise news that their schools could close this June, some teachers are staging protests while others say they are too stunned to respond, for now. At Herbert H. Lehman High School in the Bronx, Ann Looser is hoping fifty to 100 of her fellow teachers will stay after school tonight to protest city plans to “turn around” Herbert H. Lehman High School. As Lehman’s union chapter leader, Looser has led efforts to raise awareness about the city’s plan to “turn around” the school. Under the plan, which the city devised to keep federal funding despite a breakdown in negotiations over teacher evaluations, 33 low-performing schools would be closed and reopened after having half of their teachers replaced. At Lehman, Looser and her colleagues have been trying recruit families, local politicians, and journalists to attend tonight’s “early engagement” hearing. The goal, she said, is to convince the city not to upend progress that the school had been making with the help of federal funds. Under “restart,” Lehman had used the funds to offer credit recovery programs, peer mentoring, and extra training for teachers, Looser said. She said the extra help came at an important juncture, just as a new principal arrived after years of turmoil that included a grade-changing scandal. Purging the school’s teachers would set those efforts back, Looser said.
January 13, 2012
From a school in turmoil, a new way to foster student writing
The cover of the December issue of "Grady Times" memorializes a guidance counselor who died in November. Earlier this week, a teacher at William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School excitedly sent me the latest copy of the school's newsletter. Instead of having adults write the copy, students had taken the reins for the first time and filled the 10 pages with staff interviews, sports news, important dates, and original poetry. The newsletter was produced by students enrolled in after-school media classes and the "Falcon Pen Creative Writing Club," both funded with federal dollars the school was receiving to pay for a "transformation" process designed to help it improve, according to writing coordinator Evelyn Katz. Now those funds have been frozen and Katz's job could be on the chopping block. Under the terms of a proposal Mayor Bloomberg announced during his State of the City address Thursday, Grady is one of 33 schools where half of all teachers will be removed this summer to enable the schools to receive a special pot of federal funds.
December 5, 2011
More city principals, but not many, sign on to evaluation petition
Geraldine Maione, principal of William E. Grady High School, has signed onto a petition opposing the state's new teacher evaluations. The newest signatories to a petition against the state's new teacher evaluation system include one of the few principals who actually has experience with the new evaluations. Geraldine Maione heads Brooklyn's William E. Grady High School, which is among 33 "persistently low-achieving" city schools that are using the new evaluations in exchange for additional federal funds. She told me that she opposes the new evaluations because they are so formulaic that they leave little room for principals to exercise discretion. "When I walk in a classroom, I know when children are learning and teachers are teaching," she said, adding that tougher evaluations aren't necessary if principals push struggling teachers either to improve or move on. "No teacher has a forever job if the principal is doing her job," Maione said. Maione is among about 30 city principals who have signed onto a position paper arguing that the state's evaluation requirements — which require a portion of teachers’ ratings to be based on their students’ test scores — are unsupported by research, prone to errors, and too expensive at a time of budget cuts. That's a sharp rise from last month, when hundreds of principals statewide had signed on but only two active city principals were on the list.
July 6, 2011
At Grady, transformation funds change school's look and feel
Geraldine Maione, principal of William E. Grady CTE High School, speaks to a teacher getting ready for summer school. “Everything about this school has improved. Everything.” Geraldine Maione, principal of William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School in Brighton Beach, does not hesitate when asked about the trajectory of her school. Maione just finished her first year at Grady, where she was greeted with a staff weary of leadership changes, a curriculum that has see-sawed between emphasizing traditional academics and the school’s signature “shops,” and a D grade on its 2009-10 progress report. She was also given $1.4 million of additional “transformation” money through the federal government's program to improve low-achieving schools. At the end of her first year, staff members say they've felt the impact of Maione's leadership and the additional funds—though it is unclear if the school is yet making the academic gains it needs to avoid facing closure in the future. The transformation money helped pay for an array of cosmetic changes to the building and school trips to colleges throughout New York state, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. The entrance area was repainted from black and white to maroon and yellow, the school colors. The front doors are now framed by planters, filled with flowers, that double as benches. Murals featuring civil rights leaders and faces of current students fill once-blank hallway walls.
June 30, 2011
At mostly male Grady High School, top graduates are women
UFT President Michael Mulgrew addresses graduates of Grady High School. Male graduates wore red caps and gowns, and female graduates wore white. Students with blue stoles graduated with Regents diplomas. A sea of red dotted with white caps made up the graduating class at William E. Grady Career and Technical High School on Monday. The color contrast on display during Grady's graduation exercises reflected the school's stark gender imbalance: 80 percent of students are male. They were the ones wearing red caps and gowns, while female graduates wore white. Grady's vocational programs — which include automotive technology, construction trades, and heating and air conditioning repair — tend to enroll mostly male students. A culinary program attracts both men and women. (A cookbook distributed at graduation, titled "We ♥ Julia: The Recipes of the Whisk & Ladle Bistro," showcased senior culinary arts students' top recipes, including Cuban black bean soup, Swedish meatballs, and spanakopita.) But despite the odds, both of Grady's two top graduates were women. Valedictorian Jannatul Noor is heading to Philadelphia University, and salutatorian Catalina Lucero, who said in her speech that she graduated with an 88 average, will attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.
June 15, 2011
Grad rate gains at some set-to-close schools outpace city's
The 14 high schools the city is trying to close this year posted lower-than-average graduation rates — but they are not all the city's worst. Now, teachers union officials are drawing attention to three other high schools approved for closure that posted graduation rate increases two times or more than the city's overall 2 percent gain. In the Bronx, Christopher Columbus High School's 4-year graduation rate rose by 5.7 percentage points, to 41.6 percent. Norman Thomas High School, in Manhattan, saw its 4-year rate go from 37 percent to 47.8 percent. Brooklyn's Paul Robeson High School saw a similar leap, to 50 percent from 40.4 percent last year. "We knew that we had increased our graduation rate last year by 10 percent and have been saying that since November but no one pays any attention," said Stefanie Siegel, a Robeson teacher who has been active in protests against the school's planned closure. "When our spirits were high after we won the court case last year, we made great gains in a short period of time," she said. That court case was the lawsuit the teachers union won to stop the city from closing 19 low-performing schools. Performance boosts at three of the high schools kept them off the chopping block this year. Two of the schools got higher progress report grades, 85 percent of which depend on graduation rates and students' progress toward graduation. The city said it was confident in a leadership change at the third school. The schools with oversized gains this year still lag well behind the citywide average 4-year graduation rate of 61 percent. And many of the other schools slated for closure continued to post dismal graduation figures.
October 18, 2010
City banks on new leadership to transform a Brooklyn school
This school year, GothamSchools and WNYC reporters will follow three New York City high schools as they try to improve. The following is an introduction to one of those schools: William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School. For years, Brooklyn’s William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School struggled to break free from its reputation as simply a trade school. “The ‘vocational school’ stigma continues to be a deterrent to students who see themselves as college bound,” the school’s leadership team wrote in its educational plan for the 2008-09 school year. Staff laid out strategies to make the school more challenging — and posted some gains — but the school continued to limp academically. About a fifth of the school's 1,300 students were absent every day last year, and at the end of the year, not even half of the school's seniors graduated. Now, the city is hoping that millions of dollars in federal aid and a new principal will finally jumpstart Grady's renaissance. Earlier this year, the city announced the school would undergo the federal “transformation” model of school improvement. That meant the city had to replace Grady’s principal — Carlston Gray, who had headed the school since 2006 — and adopt new class schedules and bonuses for teachers who help their colleagues. In exchange, Grady would get as much as $2 million in federal funds per year over the next three years. For a new leader, the city turned to Geraldine Maione, who had been principal at Brooklyn’s 3,500-student Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School.
October 15, 2010
3 reporters, 3 high schools, 3,000 students, one school year
More than 30 schools across the city are about to embark on an experiment to rapidly boost student performance. In a plan endorsed by President Barack Obama, the city will use millions of federal dollars to either resuscitate the schools, or shut them down and open new ones. This year, we'll be following three of these schools. A Brooklyn high school sees almost half its freshmen drop out before their senior year and struggles with safety, but staff hope that new leadership will revive the school. Another in SoHo draws students from all over the city and has a graduation rate of just 50 percent, but both teachers and students are optimistic that a longer school day and more training for teachers can forge a better future. At a third high school in the Bronx, the staff is fighting to keep the school open despite threats from Mayor Bloomberg, who urged parents not to send their children there. Those students who showed up this year anyway "will get a terrible education that...they'll probably never recover from," Bloomberg told reporters. Together, the three high schools serve over 3,000 of the city's neediest students. They are part of a group of schools targeted by both the mayor, who calls them "failing," and President Obama, who calls the worst among them "dropout factories." Both men describe the schools' resuscitation as crucial to solving poverty and improving the economy. But how should the schools get fixed? And what role should Obama's team in Washington, D.C., play? In this project, a collaboration of GothamSchools and WNYC that launches formally on Monday, we will follow three efforts to change three struggling schools.
September 16, 2010
To follow federal rules, city swaps one principal for another
To comply with federal rules meant to turn struggling schools around, the city is playing a game of musical chairs — or, rather, musical principals. Under the rules, the 11 struggling schools the city wants to "transform" can't get federal dollars unless the city replaces their current principals with a new leader. But in one case, school officials have removed the principal from one struggling school — and made her the new leader at another. Geraldine Maione will move from being principal at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, one of the 11 transformation schools, to being principal at William Grady, another of the 11. The shuffling of principals highlights the compromise approach that the city is taking with the 11 schools it selected for "transformation." The transformation model is the least severe of the four federal school turnaround strategies because it does not require officials to remove any teachers. It does, however, require that the principal be replaced. But officials have wanted to keep some of the 11 principals, citing improvements their schools have made on their watch.
In your inbox.
Chalkbeat New York
How I Teach
Ready or Not
Rise & Shine Colorado
Rise & Shine Detroit
Rise & Shine Indiana
Rise & Shine Tennessee
The Starting Line