Humanities Preparatory Academy

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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351 West 18 Street
Manhattan NY 10011
Chelsea (District 2)
Trains: 1 to 18th St; 2, 3, F, M to 14th St; A, C, E, L to 14th St-8th Ave
Buses: M11, M12, M14A, M14D, M20, M23, M55, M7


Jeannie Ferrari
Parent Coordinator
Pavel Paulino De Soto

What’s Special

Small progressive school that welcomes both 9th graders and transfer students

The Downside

Shared building needs some TLC; few AP courses

Our Review

Humanities Prep, a small progressive school in the Bayard Rustin Educational Campus in Chelsea, provides an academically challenging and welcoming alternative to traditional high schools. Humanities Prep enrolls both 14-year-old 9th graders and older teens who may have struggled in a typical high school.

Instead of preparing for Regents exams, students focus on research and investigation and the rigors of writing. Students present PBATs (performance-based assessment tasks) in math, English, science and social studies. They choose a topic, write about it then present and defend their work in front of a panel of teachers and outside evaluators. English is the only required Regents exam.

Teachers and students call are on a first name basis. "Every teacher knows every student well," said Jeannie Ferrari, principal since 2013. Each teacher leads an advisory four days a week, following students throughout their time at the school. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, students may wear hoodies and hats and there is a tone of respect throughout. Cliques are not tolerated
"No one is really excluded," a student told us. "We get a lot of emotional support."

The graduation rate is high and most graduates leave ready to do college-level work.

Teachers have a hand in designing classes. Advanced math students may take "proofs", a course which allows students to dig deeper in a problem and find the justification, not just doing "drill and kill as in a Regents curriculum," said Robert Michelin, assistant principal and a former math teacher. In "Food Chemistry," kids analyze the chemicals in foods and look at related health and social justice issues. Students look at literature through a teen's lens in a course called "Awkward, Angry or Invisible".

Art is integrated into many core subjects. Algebra students studying linear equations made drawings of stained glass windows, and then wrote equations to show how the drawing could be replicated.

The school adopted a restorative justice program. Students who break one of the school rules may be called before a "fairness committee" of teachers and their peers to work out a resolution. For example, after meeting with a girl who regularly missed the last class of the day, the committee got her help for the personal issues that were impeding her studies.

Computer Science was the only AP course offered in 2017 although the plan is to add more, Ferrari said. Students may take College Now courses at CUNY. Students who want more challenge may have harder texts and more writing assignments.

Electives include Spanish, Japanese, music, yoga and meditation. Sports teams are shared with the other five schools in the building. Sharing space in the building can be tough, especially when it comes to gym access, Ferrari said. Instead of the large gymnasium, students typically use small dance and yoga studios. They don't each lunch in the cafeteria; they either go out or bring food trays from the cafeteria to eat in classrooms or at convivial round tables in the corridor.

"We intentionally do not use the cafeteria space," said Ferrari. "Anonymity isn't conducive to building a stronger culture."

The huge building is in varying degrees of repair: The 6th floor, where all schools share space, is beautifully renovated; the floor occupied by Humanities Prep and James Baldwin, a small transfer school, though clean, has some peeling paint and could use an upgrade.

There is a fulltime college counselor on staff; the 2016 valedictorian went to Dartmouth; the salutatorian to Bryn Mawr. Students from Vassar have tutored at the school and that's another popular choice. Most graduates go to SUNYs and CUNYs.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are two special education teachers and Integrated Co-Teaching classrooms. "Through integration every single student is lifted up," said the principal. "Kids with IEPs learn differently; we try to tap into their strengths." In one ICT math class, the special education teacher took a group of students into a different room to work separately on an algebra project without the distraction of being in a larger classroom.

ADMISSIONS: Half the students are admitted in 9th grade and half come in later as transfer students from all over the city. Incoming 9th graders are screened for attendance and grades of 80 or above in core subjects. Most students who wish to transfer to the school are accepted, Ferrari said, unless they are so behind in credits that they wouldn't be able to graduate by the time they are 21. (Pamela Wheaton, January 2017)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school shares the Bayard Rustin Educational Campus with five other schools
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 1 dedicated space for Dance
This school has 2 licensed arts teacher in Music (part-time) and Visual arts (part-time)

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Humanities Preparatory Academy
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Develop intellectual and civic leadership through self-discovery and challenge, with an emphasis on writing, public speaking, the arts, technology and community action.


Language Courses

Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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