Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School

An Insideschools pick
100 ESSEX DRIVE
STATEN ISLAND NY 10314 Map
Phone: (718) 370-6950
Website: Click here
Admissions: Citywide
Principal: Traci Frey
Neighborhood: New Springville
District: 31
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: DIANA LEON GONZALEZ
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Citywide

Buses: S44, S55, S56, S59, S61, S79-SBS, S89, S91, S94, X17, X17A, X17J, X31

What's special:

New suburban-style campus, hands-on activities and field trips

The downside:

Turbulent first two years, no advanced placement classes

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

 Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School offers the intimacy of a small high school with many of the activities and amenities its large suburban counterparts. Opened in 2008, the school shares a gleaming new campus with its sister middle school, Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning, another high school called CSI High School for International Studies, and a District 75 school for disabled students. Students have access to athletic fields, a large gymnasium, a library and a variety of afterschool activities and social programs.

McCown is part of a network of expeditionary learning schools affiliated with Outward Bound, a nonprofit organization that organizes hikes, camping trips and other activities outside the classroom to build teamwork and character.  “It’s not just chalk and talk. The students have a lot of interaction with each other and they rely on each other,” says Principal Traci Frey, a Staten Island native who took over McCown after running Edward R. Murrow High School’s science department as assistant principal.

Frey became principal after a turbulent first two years in which the school lost both its founding principal and an inexperienced interim principal. Frey notes that the period was marred by low test scores, excessive suspensions and teacher turnover. She says she has hired some excellent teachers, including some from Murrow, and is working to turn the school’s reputation around. An early sign of success: 92 percent of ninth graders passed the Living Environment Regents in 2010.

On our visit, classrooms seemed orderly, and students seemed happy and engaged. Students of different races seemed to get along well: in the cafeteria, we saw white, black, Hispanic and Asian kids sit at the same tables—possibly a result of the teambuilding exercises which begin the school year. All ninth graders are assigned to a “crew” and a teacher who is their crew leader. Each crew goes on a weeklong camping trip. Crew members meet daily all four years of high school. (Outward Bound is supporting the trips until 2012; after that, their future is uncertain.)

Most lessons we saw centered around projects. A young science teacher, Devin Sprague, took his class into the fields behind the school to learn the difference between “biotic” (living) and “abiotic” (non-living) while mapping the schoolyard’s surprising web of life. “We learned that we are surrounded by biodiversity,” said Cazina, a ninth grader. “Science is really fun because the teacher is really fun,” added her classmate, Shanese.

There is an emphasis on teaching concepts rather than merely facts. Goals were displayed colorfully on the wall in an 11th grade Global History class: “I can describe how ideas can lead to conflict.” “I can explain why revolutions happen.” “I can explain how technological change affects social, economic and political systems.”

Like many small schools, McCown offers no Advanced Placements, but Frey says she hopes to offer them in the future.

Special education: About one-quarter of students special education services including SETTS and CTT. One of the school’s founders, Dorita James, is in charge of special education. From what we observed, she is a kind and patient teacher who is popular with students. 

Admissions: There are no admissions requirements. Students who attend an information session get priority. (Kim Nauer, October 2010)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the Jerome Parker Educational Campus with two other schools

Number of Students 450

Average Daily Attendance 90%

Uniforms? Yes

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
4%

Black

  
12%

Hispanic

  
18%

White

  
59%

Free Lunch

  
47%

Special ed

  
23%

English Language Learners

  
0%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.57 2.39 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

61% 74% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

82% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

93% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

28% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2015

How many students graduated within 4 years?

82% 69% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

5% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated within 6 years?

89% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many graduates dropped out within 4 years?

2% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

College prep

Does this school offer a college preparatory curriculum?

How many students took an AP or IB class and scored at least a "3" on the AP exam or a "4" on the IB exam?

7%

How Many Students took a College Course and Got a "C" or Higher?

28%

How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?

15%

Are students ready for college?

How many students graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

26% 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

458
424 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 495 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many students graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

70% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT math scores

442
432 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 511 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students graduated within 4 years?

58% 48% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students graduated within 6 years?

NA 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners graduated within 4 years?

48% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners graduated within 6 years?

56% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School

Limited Unscreened

Academics

AP COURSES: AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP US History, AP World History

Source: High school directory 2015-2016

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Cheerleading, Chess, Close Up, Club 360, Culinary, Debate Team, Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), Guitar, International, Key Club, Knitting/Crocheting, Martial Arts, Music, Peer Mediators, School Newspaper, S!NG, Sci Fi/Horror, Student Government, Theater Arts

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Indoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Wrestling

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Flag Football, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

Other schools sports: Basketball, Volleyball

Source: High school directory 2015-2016

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