Hostos-Lincoln Academy of Science
Bronx NY 10455
Free college courses, tiny class size, and lots of help for kids learning English
Some students feel unsafe in neighborhood outside school
Hostos-Lincoln Academy of Sciences, a small school serving grades 6-12, offers students the chance to take free college courses at nearby Hostos Community College. Most students arrive in 6th grade with poor academic skills and many are still learning English, but the school does a good job helping them catch up and nearly half graduate with a two-year-college degree.
Free college tuition is a game changer in the South Bronx community where the median income is about $20,000, says long-time Principal Nicholas Paarlberg. “I tell our parents that when they start out with us that they start with $16,000,” the value of the two-year associate’s degree, he says. “Every time your child is late or misses homework, deduct $1.”
Two strategies have proven useful, particularly for the Latino students who are still learning English. First, a seasoned English teacher works individually with every student at some point, whether they are in his Advanced Placement English or in his class for English Language Learners. “Kids have had bad experiences with reading,” says the teacher, who goes by his initials TC. “They learned that they were failures. We work on reverting the trauma and focus on high interest stories,” books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or articles such as “Should People be Allowed to Sell Their Kidneys?”
Second, juniors and seniors spend their afternoon in one-on-one tutoring sessions with the middle school students. “It is great when the older classmen connects with the material and the student,” TC says. “It is common to hear them say, ‘This part was hard for me too when I was doing this.’”
Small class size in middle school means kids get lots of attention. The school takes part in the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), the city’s program designed to boost reading levels with intense instruction and a longer school day. Students also get small-group instruction in math. Hostos is addressing the very low math skills of incoming middle school students by creating “math teams” to ensure they know math basics.
On the day of our visit, 8th grade drama students received feedback on monologues they wrote themselves and had performed the day before. Seventh graders discussed Finding Someplace, the story of a 13-year-old fashion designer from New Orleans. In 6th grade, students built simple machines.
High school students interested in science may do research with college professors. The school’s science team has won awards at DNA barcoding competitions, which supports teens doing biological research
Some graduates have gone on to four-year- CUNY colleges like Hunter and Baruch as well as private colleges like Vanderbilt and Dickinson. Some have gone into nursing; others to get advanced degrees.
The full-time college advisor shared the story of a student with epilepsy and a love for theater who is now at SUNY Potsdam. The advisor worked to gain the trust of the student’s family to persuade them to permit the student to leave the Bronx for college.
Hostos-Lincoln shares a building with University Prep Charter. A downside: although students feel safe inside, about one-third of the students responding to school surveys say they don’t feel safe outside the school building.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: About 20 percent of students receive special education services. All of the 8th grade classes are team-taught and students with Individual Education Plans may take Regents exams in 8th grade. Hostos also creates empathy in students by reading books like Out of My Mind, the story of a disabled girl who overcomes challenges. “It is better to create intrinsic empathy instead of preaching empathy,” says Paarlberg.
ADMISSIONS: Middle school is open to District 7; there are about 30 seats in high school, which is open citywide but gives priority to continuing 8th-graders. Admission for both middle and high school is based on a review of students ELA and math scores, grades and attendance record. (Jacquie Wayans, Oct 2017)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
Boys PSAL teams
Girls PSAL teams
Cross Country, Outdoor Track, Volleyball