Pelham Preparatory Academy
BRONX NY 10469 Map
Pelham Preparatory Academy
Pelham Preparatory Academy, a small school housed in the Christopher Columbus Educational Campus, provides students with a close-knit community and good advice on college. Starting in 9th grade students write drafts of college application essays and tour college campuses. Students may take courses for free at Lehman College, which also sponsors SAT prep classes for older students and a summer bridge program for incoming 9th graders. Though many students arrive ill-prepared for high school, over 90 percent graduate in four years, which is well above the citywide rate.
Founded in 2002 as a program within Columbus High School, Pelham Prep became a full-fledged school within a few years. Principal Carlos Santiago took the helm in October, 2011 and has worked at Pelham Prep since 2003 as a Spanish teacher and assistant principal.
The school does a good job of creating a supportive environment. Classrooms are clustered together by grade, which means most students spend a good portion of their day in one section of the school’s home on the fourth floor. Students are encouraged to stick around after their last class. If they don’t have an activity scheduled, they may hang out in the Student Union, a classroom set aside for students to socialize, do homework and get extra help.
One student who transferred from the larger school in the building, Columbus High School, said he was much happier at Pelham Prep “They make an effort to help students,” he said. That sentiment was reflected in the 2011-12 Learning Environment Survey. A majority of students who responded said that they felt safe in their school, got extra help when needed, and were inspired to learn by their teachers. In the same survey, teachers gave high marks to Santiago.
Instruction is pretty traditional, with students sitting in rows and teachers leading the lesson. For instance, in a 10th grade English class we observed, the teacher read aloud from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, pausing at regular intervals to pose questions to the students, who all appeared to be paying attention.
Course offerings are limited. Advanced Placement (AP) offerings vary from year-to-year, but typically include AP English, Calculus and Spanish. Some are open to students in other schools in the building. Electives also vary year-to-year, but typically include journalism, technology and a marine biology class that covers college-level work, but not for college credit. Spanish is the only foreign language taught.
For variety, students participate in a range of extra-curricular activities including student leadership art, the school newspaper, chess, and culinary arts. There are also PSAL sports teams and five orchestras open to students in all campus schools.
All schools in the building share the cafeteria, library, gymnasiums, auditorium and culinary arts room. Everyone entering the building must pass through metal detectors.
College admissions: Graduates have won scholarships to Bard, Skidmore, Syracuse, the University of Vermont and the University of Tampa. The University of Vermont sponsors student trips to its campus and helps seniors prepare for college interviews and complete applications.
Special education: The school has self-contained and ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) class. There is a small population of roughly 15 English language learners who receive extra support from an English as a second language teacher.
Admissions: Priority to Bronx students or residents who attend an information session. (Laura Zingmond, June 2012)