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Photographs of
Berriman J.H.S. 64
Brooklyn, New York

My Tribute to Berriman JHS 64

Nobody knows the troubles I have seen and no one was safe where I taught!

I am thinking about writing a book about my experiences teaching in four schools in the East New York section of Brooklyn.  The following are excerpts taken from newspaper articles, books and staff memos I collected during my 32 year teaching career. 

The 75th Police Precinct served the East New York neighborhood.  The 6.5-square mile precinct on the Brooklyn-Queens border was known as the "Homicide Capital of New York City."  The police precinct (75th) was nicknamed
"Dodge City." 

Headlines of articles that I collected:

"A Day in the Life of the Deadliest Precinct"

"East New York, the Home of the Uzis"

"East New York: where death is a way of life"

"East New York: End of the Line"

"I started to get a bad feeling.  The Seven Five was a depressing place to work.  The people in the neighborhood were very poor.  And there didn't seem to be much hope. I started getting depressed going to work every day." from One Tough Cop: The Bo Dietl Story.


You can make a lesson out of anything:

One day I walked into my classroom and found a window with a bullet hole in it.  I found the spot in the wall where the bullet was lodged.  I put a sign on the window:  "Trace the trajectory of the bullet."  I had a Math & Science teacher help us determine where the bullet was fired from. (Cross curricular teaching!) When we dug the bullet out of the wall. the students automatically knew the caliber and what probable weapon it was fired from.

We had a lot of fires set by students in our school.  The joke was that the firefighters should have been given time cards to punch in because they were regular visitors to our school because of all the fires.  You could not put up bulletin boards or decorations because the papers would be burned.  The picture below was a fire that was set in the Teacher's Room.

"Today's evacuation of the building was well done. It was marred by a number of children throwing snowballs who interfered with the fire department."

"I.S. 218 sat on the corner of Fountain and Blake about twenty blocks from Lloyd's home in the heart of East New York.  It was a hazardous walk for a kid, even one as street-smart as Lloyd.  It was even more hazardous for the ones who weren't as streetwise, for the kids who had to walk past the Cypress Houses, the Pink Houses and Linden Plaza-housing projects once built in an effort to provide shelter for the poor and underprivileged, but now all but forgotten worlds, seen but unseen.  Left to the drug dealers and to their clientele." from Sweet'Pea and Other Playground Legends." A story about basketball player Lloyd Daniels.

You Never Know

After helping coach Berriman JHS to a NYC City Championship in Track & Field I helped organize a Field Day for our school.  Running one of the legs of a relay for his seventh grade class I spotted a young man who was unbelievably fast.  Naturally we encouraged him to go out for the track team.  He captured an individual city championship the following year and he went on to set a world's record when he was sixteen!

Lillo Thomas

East New York - Brooklyn

My 32 years in East New York was quite an ordeal.  I saw and experienced a great deal.

* a man shot to death right in front of my school during school hours

* a car being stripped behind the school by two different teams of car strippers

* drugs being dealt at a house across the street from school & undercover police using my room as a surveillance spot

* drive by shootings

* a bullet hole in the window and lodged in the wall of my library

* prostitutes plying their trade on the school block

* teachers being led out of our school in handcuffs

* packs of wild dogs chasing after cars

"Situated in Brooklyn's Community School District 19, described as one of the toughest and poorest areas in New York City....  The district's crime rate has been described as devastatingly high." Maureen Wickersham

Newspaper Stories I collected about our students and teachers:

"Indict 5 Teenagers in Killing of 3 Elderly Men"

"Nab Suspects in 27 Holdups"

"Youth Slain in IRT Holdup"

"Three Hurt in Battle at Playground"

"School Administrator Attacked by Gang" (Our principal attacked in the school yard during school hours)

"Schools Are Halls of Fear" (My school led city in attacks on teachers)

"Say teacher molested boys" (one of our staff members)

"Brooklyn Teen Slain on Street"

"School sex-abuse probe uncovers city's Dirty LIttle Secret" (another of our teachers)

"Shots ring out as Mayor speaks" (across the street from our school)

"Streets of Death"

"Zodiac Suspect Nabbed" (one of our former students and I have his yearbook picture)

"Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (Ex-Guidance Counselor sentenced in poker operation)

From principal's letter to staff after a colleague was almost arrested by police officers: "I am asking that all faculty members refrain from going to the store located across from the school.  This is a known drug area and the police are in constant surveillance."

"City Repairing a School It Plans to Tear Down"

Death Wish 3.  This movie was partly filmed in East New York in 1985.  We saw them filming the movie.  There are street inaccuracies portrayed in the movie.  They have the right names of the streets but they do not intersect as mentioned in the movie.

Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe, the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World was a student in one of the schools where I taught. He did come back to the school to visit us. (I have a letter from him that he sent me from prison)

*********************************

Highlights of My Career

* My students giving me with a Teacher of the Year trophy

* My library squad awarding me a plaque

* Winning two city championships in track (back to back with 2 different schools)

*Being awarded two coaching plaques

*Being presented with six Teacher of the Year awards in three different schools

I am very proud that many of my former students went on to become successful in the careers they pursued. 

The Career of
Cybrary Man

Students set fires to papers on bulletin boards and burned classrooms.


My Health Careers Program Page

The HCP Program was an award winning program where students went one day a week in the seventh grade to a day care center and one day a week half a year in the eighth grade to a health facility and the other half to a nursing home or senior center (Foster Grandparent Program was a component)

My Brooklyn Page

My New York City Page

The second school I taught at led New York City on assaults on teachers.

In my third school the most difficult day I had occurred when I learned one of my favorite students had died of a gunshot wound.

My Counseling Page

My last school had the most teachers arrested and led out of school in handcuffs.