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It was one of the state's lowest-performing schools. Now Rochester's School 19 is a source of hope

School 19 on Seward Street in Rochester's 19th Ward.
Jeremy Moule
School 19 on Seward Street in Rochester's 19th Ward.

A Rochester city school that was labeled as one of the lowest performing schools in the state, is now making a comeback.

School 19 in Rochester’s 19th Ward is exiting receivership after five years of intensive remediation.

“I recognize that I am only as strong as my team,” said Principal Moniek Silas-Lee at a school board meeting on Tuesday. “My team has been there. We have been through the tough times, through the wonderful times.”

New York state law requires schools that are identified as struggling or failing be placed in an intensive accountability category called receivership. In the case of School 19, community engagement was a key focus while it was in receivership status.

That included providing families with food, holiday gifts, and school supplies. The school also partnered with The Children’s Agenda to put bookshelves and books in more than 60 homes— a project spearheaded by ROC the Future, according to a spokesperson with The Children's Agenda.

“Seeing the culture of that school is just — it is a contagious thing,” said school board member Camille Simmons. “Culture is contagious, I'm going to take that tagline from another location. But it was very evident to see the work that was going in and the benefits and the fruit of the labor have come and arrived.”

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Three superintendents — Terry Dade, Lesli Myers-Small, and Carmine Peluso — oversaw the receivership program due to the district’s high turnover rate in leadership.

“As a parent, I constantly am just saddened and I feel just overwhelmed by the data and the things that we see in our districts,” said parent representative Monica Graham. “So to see (Silas-Lee's) team come together and do amazing things provides me hope, not only as a parent, but a community member, that we are going in the right direction.”

Heading toward the next school year, there are five schools in the district listed as in receivership: School 16, School 28, School 33, Monroe High School, and Edison High School.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.