Wednesday, June 09, 2010

For East Harlem, A Start-Up Charter High School

An Amish guy starting a new charter high school in East Harlem – what next?  That's a joke – check out his picture:

 Seriously, this kind of innovation is what makes charter schools so important.  Nicholas Tishuk has his work cut out for him, but I applaud what he's doing – especially focusing on special ed kids:

Mr. Tishuk got his first taste of challenging high-school students in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in 2003 as a teacher of 11th-graders. In that school, kids carried knives, a principal was punched in the face and fights broke out every day.

Mr. Tishuk strived to connect with his students. Some kids "are angry for good reasons," he said, citing home lives that are violent or neglectful. He started a chess club, sat with his students at lunch and tutored them on his own time.

"Once I got to know my students well and they developed trust in me and felt respected, English became just another conversation for us to have," he said. By the end of his first school year, 93% of his students passed the English Regents, a comprehensive New York exam.

In creating Renaissance, Mr. Tishuk made his work even more challenging. He aggressively recruited special-education students—those with issues that range from learning disabilities to behavioral problems. The incoming class is 30% special education, more than twice the average in New York City. About 88% of Renaissance's 135 students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Mr. Tishuk isn't worried about the challenges of his high-risk cohort. "These kids can learn," he said.


  • JUNE 1, 2010

For East Harlem, A Start-Up Charter High School


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