Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences
High-level academics for students interested in math and science
Too new as a stand-alone school to have a proven track record
The vision: An academically demanding science-focused program aimed at minority students that prepares them for college.
The reality: Although it is still new, the school has an excellent track record from its days as a program at Jamaica High School. It was saved from the rubble of Jamaica after the city decided to close the high school for poor performance.
Formerly the Gateway Institute for Pre-College Education at Jamaica, it opened as its own school, Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences, in 2011. The program is designed for minority students interested in exploring science and math, especially medicine and related fields.
The Gateway program opened in Jamaica High School in 1986 and since then 97 percent of the 3,000 graduates of the Gateway program have gone to college, 80 percent of whom graduated college within five years (compared to a national rate of 30 percent).
I know what works, says Principal Caren Birchwood-Taylor, who has been a science teacher for 28 years and helped establish the Gateway program at Bayside High School where she was assistant principal of science in 2010-2011. She says the schools small size helps her staff give individual attention to every student - not just academic support, but emotional support, exposure to the outside world, and early college advisement.
Gateway students will have mandatory internships and summer programs. If you say you want to be a doctor, you better spend some time in a hospital, Gateway official Edwing Medina says. The school features a slightly longer school day, monthly Saturday seminars, and required community service.
The administration hopes to limit class size to 25-27, with a 15:1 ratio for the schools weekly advisories.
College representatives visit at least once a month to talk about admissions and financial aid. College prep classes in 11th and 12th grade help with PSAT and SAT tutoring on-site and outside. Most students go on to attend four-year colleges including NYU, Stony Brook and Penn State.
In addition to standard requirements, students must perform 500 hours of community service per year, Saturday test prep and collegereadiness courses. Students are encouraged to complete the requirements for an Advanced Regents diploma and must score above 85 in all of their classes to avoid academic intervention. According to Assistant Principal Satanya McLaughlyn, 10 percent of students in the Jamaica Gateway program earned Advanced Regents diplomas in 2011.
Students can take four years of math and science, including AP calculus, science research and computer programming. All students take three years of Spanish.
Afterschool clubs include robotics, pathways to medicine, glee and international dance. PSAL teams are shared with all schools in the building.
Uniforms are required.
Admissions: The school accepts students with a variety of academic abilities through the educational option process. (Helen Zelon and Aryn Bloodworth, January 2012)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP English Literature and Composition
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Fencing, Football, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
Cricket, Double Dutch, Golf, Stunt
Jamaica NY 11432
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