Bronxdale High School
Bronxdale High School opened in 2011 with the idea that students learn best in all subjects by engaging in projects. The school opened with 100 ninth graders in 2011 and will expand by one grade each year until it serves students in grades 9 to 12.
The school has a non-traditional structure, and classes are small and limited to 20 students. Classes are scheduled into blocks with each content area meeting for 90 minutes every other day. ELA (including ESL) meets every day for 90 minutes. Principal Carolyne Quintana told us that the longer class periods allow students to work with their teachers to generate questions, experiment, conduct research, participate in Socratic seminar discussions, and do lots of writing.
Students spend the rest of their day in "project time," working on projects that are assigned to them in each of their core subjects. Teachers supervise the project time and meet with students individually to monitor their progress, but for the most part students work independently or in small groups. When we visited, students recently completed a debate project for English class, a memoir project and one involving functions for math.
It seems, however, that there may not be enough teacher led instruction taking place for students to learn their core subjects. Students rarely have homework and many are unaccustomed to independent work and struggle with time management of projects. "It was challenging because I've never been in a project-based school," one student said.
Despite the school's challenges, we observed teachers in classes who seemed enthusiastic about their lessons. Their upbeat attitude carried over to students, many of whom raised their hands and participated readily. Transitions were, for the most part, smooth, although some students loitered in the halls, having left their project time classes early.
To help students needing extra support, Bronxdale has added specific programs for those students reading below grade level; Junior Great Books and SpringBoard. For those students reading at or above grade level, the College Board's pre-AP English program is available.
Bronxdale shares space with several small high schools inside the Christopher Columbus High School Campus building. All campus schools share use of the cafeteria, library, gym, auditorium and culinary arts room. Student must pass through metal detectors to enter the building.
Students can participate in campus-wide sports teams and orchestras. Students attend an advisory class every other day to discuss issues ranging from bullying to the college process and career choices. Additionally, the school offers a culinary course, which has added options for certification; students who complete the requirements of the course may also apply CTE credits toward an advanced Regents diploma.
Special education: There are ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) classes in the core content areas. Advisors also give individual attention to special education students. English language learners get extra support during project time.
Admissions: Priority to Bronx students or residents who attend an information session. (Nikki Dowling, May 2012)