Flushing International High School
Flushing International Public High School
January 3, 2010 / Flushing / Queens Buzz. Continued. Flushing International High School is located on the third floor of the Daniel Carter Beard Middle School at 144-80 Barclay Avenue in Flushing. The school is relatively new, as it was started in 2003 – and it is still looking for a permanent home. The remainder of the building is occupied by the middle school after which the building is named.
Queens Public High Schools
There are approximately 420 students attending the Queens public high school, which provides a four-year curriculum of courses covering freshman through senior levels of high school. The school has a lean two person administrative staff and about 28 teachers. As mentioned in the introductory section of this report the students who matriculate here are generally children of immigrants who’ve been in the country less than two years and speak little to no English.
Magnet School For English Language Learning
So how does Flushing International High School teach kids to speak, read and write English when the teachers don’t speak the seven or eight different [main] languages spoken by the students? They use an ingenious technique, which has proven immensely successful. They organize the kids into project teams for team learning experiences.
Contrary to one’s first impulse, they organize the kids into groups trying to minimize having anyone who speaks the same language. Luckily for kids growing up in Queens, that’s not a problem, as Queens is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse counties in the U.S. and the world.
At Flushing International High School kids come from 30 different countries and speak 20 different languages. To give you a flavor of the mix, there are Koreans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians, Afghanis, Russians, Greeks and various peoples of the Caribbean region.
High Schools In Queens - Developing Language & Team Skills
So here these kids are, new to the country and now on a project team with people they can’t communicate with in their native tongue. So what to do? Well, the solution to the problem is to learn English … and learn English they do. The kids are teens after all, and hence they’re highly motivated to communicate with their peer group.
The projects turn out to be the sort of projects you’d expect to find in any public high school across the nation. They include developing graphical presentations of the human body for biology so that kids can learn all of the bodily organs and how the body functions [see photo to left]. Another project I noticed appeared to touch on cross-cultural differences between the U.S. and China and feminine equality, possibly related to classes in social studies and / or history.
The school also had what appeared to be an up-to-date computer lab room, which after 5 pm was still being used. I was there until past 5 pm and students were still lingering, conversing with their teachers, working alone in the computer room or working in groups on projects. In the photo to your right is the computer room at Flushing International High School. In the background are numerous computer terminals and the media library is behind the photographer and hence not included in the photo.
Queens Public High Schools - The Faculty
The teachers are also organized, so that a sort of team teaching effort is put in practice for the purposes of helping these kids move along in their education. The teams are multi-disciplinary and cover both freshman and sophomores – since the newer kids are more linguistically challenged. And then organized specifically for juniors only and again for seniors only.
The objective of the teams is to address any developmental issues that individual kids may be having, from problems with their school work, to mitigating any distractions emanating from within the school and sometimes outside of it too.
While one cannot judge a public high school by one visit, Flushing International High School provided me with a very favorable first impression. The Queens high school had the warmth of a close-knit school, which was present in the comradery displayed among the student body. This warmth struck me as even more unusual, given the students were from all over the world.
And the warmth was present among the faculty as well, manifesting itself in the passion they displayed for the school, its rules [I was not allowed into the school without an escort, even after school hours], the programs for which they were responsible [they took the initiative to invite representatives of the Hibakusha to speak at the school (more on this event at a later date)], and the success of the students under their care. In the photo to your right are some of the Flushing International High School faculty members [left to right]: Pilar Carver (Chemistry), Erin (English - Juniors), Michele (Social Studies / History), Kevin Marquez (English - Seniors), Pops Singson (Math) and Dillon Paul (Visual Arts).
Student Internships & Help For Queens Small Businesses
Another facet of the school is that it is mandatory for all high school students to secure an internship with a local company prior to graduation. The purpose of this is to familiarize the kids with the American work environment so that when they go out into the world, they’ll be prepared. The program is part-time [about 12 hours per week] and the employer doesn’t have to pay for the student’s time, but is expected to provide some sort of structure / training to mentor the student.
The process begins with interviews so that both the sponsoring organization and the student find the best match. Once the match is made the student and organization begin the internship under the guidance of a teacher who acts as an advisor. Each advisor liaises with about ten sponsoring organizations.
I inquired as to what types of work the kids do and she mentioned that the high school currently has about fifty sponsoring organizations including law offices, hospitals, schools, museums, cultural organizations – to mention a few. If you’re interested in participating in this program, call 718.463.2348 or email Lara at levange @ schools.nyc.gov.
Origins Of Flushing International High School
In my interview with Joseph Luft and Lara Evangalista, principal and assistant principal respectively, I was informed as to the origins of magnet schools such as these.
It all started about 23 years ago  in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn when NYC public high schools opened up two international schools, dedicated to helping immigrant children make the transition into American life. The goal of these schools was to enable these students to become vibrant and productive contributors to their communities. The schools targeted populations of children that couldn’t speak any English and might be able to write a bit of it. The focus on these schools, in addition to providing their students with a high school education, is to help them learn the English language. Their students are sometimes referred to as ELL’s or English Language Learners.
Internationalists Network For Public Schools
The first thee internationalist schools were: Internationalist High School at LaGuardia Community College, Manhattan International High School and Brooklyn International High School. Today there are fourteen internationalist schools, twelve of which are located in the boroughs of New York City, and three of which are located in Queens. Flushing International High School principal, Joseph Luft, was once on the faculty of the Brooklyn school.
They organized the teachers around a team-based model, with three teams concentrated on working with the freshman and sophomores and two teams [one team for each year] working with the juniors and seniors. The extra team in the first two years is because that’s when the students are most challenged, having to ramp to a workable level of the English language. By their junior and senior years, they’re far more self-reliant having mastered a communicable and often-times fluent command of the English language.
Flushing International High School got its start with help from the Internationalists Network for Public Schools [internationalsnps.org]. In the beginning these schools received some additional funding from the internationalists, but at present operate within the guidelines of their municipal government funding. The entrance to Flushing International High School, which is located in the Daniel Beard Middle School in Flushing Queens is shown in the photo above.
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