Congrats East Brooklyn Community High School grad Darren Scott

East Brooklyn Community High School graduate Darren Scott

East Brooklyn Community High School graduate Darren Scott

On a recent visit to East Brooklyn Community High School where he graduated in December, Darren Scott, 19, was greeted with hugs and high fives from students and staff. He had become a real leader in the school since arriving in September 2012.

In his former high school, Darren got into frequent trouble – fighting, cutting class, being disrespectful to teachers.  One day, Darren’s SCO Family of Services foster care caseworker, Eric Turner, told him about East Brooklyn Community High School, a transfer school run by SCO and the NYC Department of Education. Eric described a school that gives kids like Darren a second chance – a smaller school with a caring staff that gives students who are struggling the opportunity to earn credits faster.

Darren Scott with AC Jimmy Walker (left)

Darren Scott with AC Jimmy Walker (left)

“At first I said ‘no,’ but I was really falling off. I saw friends graduating but I wasn’t, so eventually I thought ‘why not give it a try?’” Darren explained.

It took some time for Darren to adjust to his new school – new students, new staff and a new culture.  He wore his hoodie up to shield himself from others. Each student at the school is assigned an advocate counselor (an “AC”) who encourages, motivates and helps the students deal with life issues outside of school. Darren’s AC, Jimmy Walker, was an enormous help.

“Jimmy was very helpful. He would encourage me, call my house, He was always pushing me…but in a good way. He believed in me,” Darren says.

Darren with his Future Focus Advocate Counselor Hannah Lieberman (left) and East Brooklyn Director Allison Newman (right)

Darren with his Future Focus Advocate Counselor Hannah Lieberman (left) and East Brooklyn Director Allison Newman

Darren’s turning point came at a monthly Community Meeting where all students and staff come together to recognize accomplishments, play games, listen to music and have fun. A group of students was playing the drums in front of the entire student body when Darren ran out and started drumming and clowning around. The crowd roared with approval.

“The real Darren came out. The funny, playful side,” said East Brooklyn Director Allison Newman. “He took a risk in front of the whole school and he earned the respect of his fellow students and staff.”

Darren Scott and his Future Focus AC Hannah Lieberman

Darren Scott and his Future Focus AC Hannah Lieberman

Darren never hid behind his hood again.

From that moment on, Darren really excelled. He began interning as a counselor for kids at Bildersee Beacon through the school’s internship program. He made the honor roll and started racking up credits. He became a role model, pushing himself and motivating others.

Hannah Lieberman, Darren’s Future Focus Advocate Counselor, helped him apply to colleges and got him ready for life after graduation. She noted the impact he had on the other students. “Darren is a force,” she said. “He has an awesome productive energy. He pushed others. He made the school feel like a community.”

AC Jimmy Walker and grad Darren Scott

AC Jimmy Walker and grad Darren Scott

His future looks bright. Darren will begin classes at Kingsborough Community College on June 30th and intends to work towards a career in social work or nursing. He credits East Brooklyn Community High School for helping him get on the right path. “You know when you come to school that someone else is in your corner,” he says. “I used to be a follower. Now I’m more of a leader.”

Darren plans to attend the official graduation ceremony on June 26th. “I feel good about getting my diploma,” he said with a wide grin. “It’s a lifetime achievement…the first step towards adulthood.”

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