Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences

74-20 COMMONWEALTH BLVD
QUEENS NY 11426 Map
Phone: (718) 736-7100
Website: Click here
Admissions: priority to districts 26 and 29
Wheelchair accessible
unzoned
Noteworthy
Noteworthy Special Education
Principal: Jae Hyun Cho
Neighborhood: Bellerose
District: 26
Grade range: 09 thru 12

What's special:

A warm, nurturing school integrates disabled kids with typical peers.

The downside:

Hard to get to by public transportation.

The InsideStats

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Our review

Many schools give lip service to integrating special education students in their program, but Queens High School of Teaching has taken inclusion seriously since it opened in 2003. The school embraces not only its own students but also severely disabled students in a District 75 school that shares the building. Integrating everyone to the greatest extent possible, school administrators believe, benefits all students -- not just those with disabilities.

The inclusion program is key to QHST's overall progressive approach. The school emphasizes projects rather than tests and is divided into three small learning communities of 400 students, each named for a progressive educator. Each has its own wing, assistant principal, counselor and teachers, although all offer essentially the same program.

In keeping with its name, the High School of Teaching offers students who are interested in pursuing teaching as a career, internships at all three campus schools: PS/IS 266, PS/IS 208 and QHST. In 2011, the school opened the Future Educators Academy, a career-education program, which will enable those who complete it to take the state-licensing exam in childcare.

"Whatever it is you want to do, if you're going to do it well, you have to be a good teacher. Those skills of teaching and learning are important," assistant principal Ean Corrado said.

Counselors help the prospective teachers at QHST find college programs and financing. One graduate returned as a student teacher and is now at QHST's sister school, Sunset Park High School.

But educating future teachers is not the main focus at the school which offers other interesting classes. Students staged a mock trial of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, playing witnesses and lawyers as their classmates listened attentively. In an art class, students researched a place they had visited or dreamed of visiting and then created mini-collages depicting it.

Most classes at QHST meet three times a week for an hour. All students spend 45 minutes a day in DEAR -- Drop Everything and Read -- reading a book of their own choosing. On Friday, the DEAR classes, which average about 18 students, meet for an advisory dealing with social and emotional issues.

The graduation rate is high, but those looking for a high-powered academic environment may find the program falls short. Classes include students with a wide range of abilities -- a practice that principal Jae Cho calls "non-negotiable." Even the two AP classes offered -- U.S. history and biology -- are open to all seniors. In the school environment survey, about a third of students and teachers indicated the school could do more to challenge students.

Students can take college courses through the St. John's Advantage program and take College Now classes. There is also a WISE Bridge to College program and a partnership with CUNY to have seniors take English and math classes that support them to be college ready.

Seniors must submit a portfolio of their work and take a senior seminar. Options include memoir writing, robotics and organic chemistry. They may also do internships and take College Now classes at CUNY.

Cho says that returning students tell the faculty that their experience at QHST prepared them well. "There is a misperception that experience-based learning is not rigorous," Cho said. One parent said the lack of emphasis on testing bothered him at first but now he thinks "it's great that they give them a hard project to do."

The building projects an atmosphere that is both calm and cheerful and students seem happy.

A parent of a first-year student says her son seems to "love [the school] more than anything in the world." Another said sending her son to the school "was the best decision of my life."

QHST fields about 30 athletic teams and offers a number of clubs.

College Admissions:The individual community guidance counselors, as well as the advisories, help students apply to college. The school also holds a college fair where graduates come to speak about their experiences. Many students attend CUNY or other local colleges. Others have been accepted to top tier schools including the Ivy League, Binghamton, West Point, University of Virginia and Georgetown.

Admission: Priority goes to students who attended the two K-8 schools on the campus. Other seats are filled under the Education Option system which aims for a mix of top, middle and low-performers. The Future Educators program accepts students via lottery, with priority going to those who attend an info session.

Special Education: QHST's special ed program offers team teaching classes and special ed services -- but no self-contained special ed classes for QHST students. It has a good record of graduating special ed students.

The students from the District 75 school, PS 811, belong to a fourth learning community, Gardner. About 27 attend some classes with QHST students and also are part of one of the other learning communities. "Being in this environment," one District 75 student says, "made me proud of what am and what I can do in the future." (Gail Robinson, April 2012)

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