The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School
MANHATTAN NY 10004 Map
The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School
The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School gives students the chance to build boats, sail boats, and even scuba dive as part of an imaginative curriculum designed to prepare them for careers on the water. The goal is to expose them to disciplines ranging from aquaculture (farming fish) to marine technology (being an engineer on a boat) whether they decide to attend college or to go to work as soon as they graduate from high school.
The day we visited, a handful of students had just returned from an early morning motor boat trip to the Bronx, where they had planted oysters in the bay as part of a school project to clean the city’s waterways. They learned that a single oyster can clean many gallons of water.
Housed in a beautifully renovated building on the leafy Governor’s Island, The Harbor School has plenty of fish tanks and pleasant sun-filled classrooms. Students and teachers take a ferry (which runs once an hour) from the southern tip of Manhattan – a trip which is both one of the school’s most charming features and its most obvious drawback: Students who miss the ferry by a minute or two have to wait for the next one and are therefore a full hour late to class. Another drawback: there is no gym or swimming pool.
The school serves a wide range of academic abilities, from struggling readers to kids who are ready for Advanced Placement courses. A few graduates have been admitted to top-tier colleges, including Cornell University and Middlebury College. It has a robust college office with a fulltime college counselor, a guidance counselor, and a social worker. At the same time, the school has a special mission to engage students who have not been academic stars; the majority of ninth graders enter reading below grade level. Most of the academic classes we visited were designed to prepare students for Regents exams, but we also saw a shop where students were building a 21-foot wooden sloop.
The school is reinventing the notion of Career and Technical Education, working with the state Education Department to devise certificates to demonstrate the mastery of useful maritime skills. For example, students may become certified as scuba divers (and may get jobs inspecting bulkheads or working on a rescue mission). Others may go on to the SUNY Maritime College in Queens to become a captain or engineer. One graduate went to work on a New York Water Taxi. Another became a deck hand on a tugboat.
In 2012, the school's founding principal, Nate Dudley accepted a job with the schools network that works with Harbor. His successor, Edward Biedermann, served as principal for two years before accepting a job at College Board to work on developing CTE programs. Kimberly Swanson became the school's interim-acting principal in August 2014. Swanson worked previously at Columbia’s Teachers College managing a teacher certification program for returned Peace Corps members. She is also a 2014 graduate for the NYC Leadership Academy, a training program for aspiring principals. In September 2015 Jeff Chetirko replaced Kimberley Swanson. Chetirko was previously principal at another Urban Assembly school, the Institute for New Technologies.
Special education: The school offers a wide range of special education services. We saw a small, self-contained class in which student were getting one-on-one attention from teachers trained in the Orton-Gillingham methods to improve reading skills.
Admissions: There are no admission requirements. Priority goes to students who attend an open house. (Clara Hemphill, October, 2010/upated with new principal info, November, 2014, and again in October 2015)
At a glance
Number of Students 447
Average Daily Attendance 89%
Metal detectors? No
INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.47 2.40 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Safety & vibe
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average english class26 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?
How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?56% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?56% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?
How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?89% 85% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?27% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How Many Students are Chronically Absent?30% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Class of 2014
How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?32%
Is the guidance counseling helpful?
How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?78% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Special ed & ELL
Programs and Admissions
School admission priorities:
- Priority to New York City residents who attend an information session
- Then to New York City residents
Students choose from one of the following programs: Aquaculture, Marine Biology Research, or Ocean Engineering. Students may receive corresponding certifications for each program, such as Geographic Information System certification or US Safe Boaters License.
Students choose from one of the following programs: Marine Systems Technology, Vessel Operations, or Professional SCUBA diving. Students may receive corresponding certifications for each program, such as Open Water Diver or US Power boating certification.
AP COURSES: Calculus, English
EXTRACURRICULAR: Maritime: Aquabotics, Fishing, Boat Building, Marine Systems Technology, Vessel Operations; Sustainability: Composting, Garden, Harbor Corps, Harbor Seals; Other: National Honor Society (NHS), National Park Service, Newspaper, Student Advisors Instilling Leadership (SAIL), Yearbook
Other schools sports: Fishing, Rowing, Sailing, Swimming