With only three students recommended to take Advanced Placement chemistry, considered the most difficult course it offers, the Lawrence School District was considering not offering the class for the 2021-2022 school year.
Support for retaining the course came from some parents on local Facebook group pages and students, including Lawrence High School senior Tiffany Godoy, who credited having taken the class taught by Rebecca Isseroff for boosting her schoolmates educational opportunities.
“Thanks to this class I was able to meet Ms. Isseroff who has exposed me to countless opportunities in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] field as a minority that I would have never even dreamed of doing,” Godoy wrote in an email sent to the Herald.
“She is the most hardworking supportive teacher at LHS and all of my classmates and teachers at LHS would agree,” Godoy stated.” Thanks to her efforts my peers and I are able to attend prestigious schools such as Harvard University, Cornell University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Duke University, Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University and many more.” Godoy said she is headed to Stanford.
“Even during such record low admission rates this college application season my peers and I have been admitted to these schools and are proud and grateful to say that it was all thanks to Ms. Isseroff who wrote our recommendation letters and introduced us to countless opportunities as mentioned above,” Godoy wrote. She also noted the fear that the district would not offer the course and never resume offering the class.
Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen said that the district has “never run” AP courses with three or less students, “maybe music,” she said, adding that classes have had fewer than 10 students. She noted that taking AP chemistry requires prior knowledge similar to a college where a prerequisite course is needed. In this case honors chemistry is required as what Pedersen called a “building block” course, along with a recommendation to take the AP class.
“We have no intention of dropping the course,” Pedersen said, adding that the district is looking for a grant to support the class. “To do right and not do harm we are looking at an advanced access grant. That way students can take the AP class and can be exposed to a college rigor course after school.
Pedersen defended the school district against the accusation that it stops offering classes. “I don’t understand that,” she said, “I’m offended by that. Our kids get into great colleges and do well. We look to provide every opportunity we can to get children to do well.”
The Lawrence School District’s next Board of Education meeting is Monday, June 14 at 8 p.m. It will be livestreamed. Go to lawrence.org for the link. Public comments on agenda items can be submitted to BOE@Lawrence.k12.ny.us.