Ralph R. McKee Career and Technical Education High School
Staten Island NY 10301
Well-equipped career education programs, supportive environment
Declining enrollment, no athletic fields
Ralph McKee Career and Technical High School is a nurturing school that prepares students in trades such as carpentry, graphic arts and automotive technology. Some students get union jobs in the construction trades when they graduate, while others go on to college. "Many high schools lose the great middle, said Principal Sharon Henry. This school is for them.
Many students enter with poor academic skills, but teachers work hard to help them catch up. Students take double periods of math and English in 9th grade, then begin the career classes in 10th grade.
AVID, a growing national college preparatory program, plays a key role in the effort to boost academics at McKee. AVID students, who generally scored well below grade level on their 8th-grade state standardized tests, take most of their academic subjects together, along with a special class that provides extra support in problem-solving and note-taking. One parent whose daughter is headed to Spellman College in Atlanta, said, "AVID takes kids who are 75, 80 even 70 students and transforms them."
The school has an honors program for higher-performing students and a pathway to AVID for 9th-graders who are deemed not ready for the full AVID program. The school offers calculus and chemistry, but not physics. A few Advanced Placement classes and some college-credit courses also are available. The only foreign language offered is one year of Italian.
The shop classes reinforce academics. "If you have real world applications of math, students are going to learn it faster," said Assistant Principal Ralph Guarinieri. "For some kids it's just algebra and geometry but when you put it in a project, it hits home." That applies in the humanities as well; in graphic design, for example, every student must research a country and then submit possible designs for its money.
Automotive students repair cars brought in by teachers and area residents, and graphic design students prepare pamphlets and other materials for local businesses and organizations. Employers offer an array of internships. All the CTE (career and technical education) programs stress employability; that includes instruction in "soft skills," such as working with other people.
Some programs, such as auto mechanics, have far more boys than girls. At least one girl seemed to thrive on that. "I wanted to try something different," she said. "I didnt want to be like other girls. I wanted to get my hands dirty."
The school has a strong sense of community. On the day we visited, parents at a bake sale chatted enthusiastically about the school. "You literally can come in here and say, 'I need to talk to my child's teacher," one said. A recent graduate, who came back to coach students, recalled his time at McKee as "a loving family and support system. It gives you an edge." Shop teachers in particular seem to have a sense of mission, speaking proudly of alumni they see working in businesses around Staten Islandmany of whom are going to college as well. However, the schools enrollment has declined in recent years, something Henry blames at least partly on its location. The school has no athletic fields and shares some sports programs with Staten Island Tech.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: McKee offers ICT team-teaching classes mixing special education and general education students and self-contained classes. Some of the students in the self-contained program work at Caf McKee.
ADMISSIONS: According to the high school directory, McKee screens students for some of the career programs, and for others it uses the education option method, designed to ensure a school will have students with a range of abilities. Given a low number of applicants, though, most students who apply will be admitted. (Gail Robinson, April 2015)
About the students
About the school
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Programs and Admissions
The Electrical Engineering and Installation Program instructs students in AC/DC circuit analysis, soldering, wiring of various circuits, residential wiring, commercial wiring, and motor controls.
The Software Engineering program (SEP) will give students training and experience in coding. The SEP core topics are Python, Scratch, HTML, CSS, processing, and Java. Additional programming electronics and robotics skills are learned with Arduino, and LEGO robotics. Within robotics, students learn LEGO Mindstorms, EV3, and digital fabrication. Within 3-D printing using Makerbot, students learn Flash, animation, and Action Script. Internship partners include NYC DIIT and Ernst & Young.
Students become proficient in Cisco to take the Cisco Certified Networking Associate Exam (CCNA)successful completion of this program prepares students for computer repair and maintenance, network design, and infrastructure support to install computer connections, program routers, and maintain computer networks. Internships partners include ASI, Digital Edge, and State Senator Diane Savino.
Preparation for art and media design careers using digital technology a blend of art, computers, and journalism; students will learn the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign etc.) animation, and video/audio editing. Students participate in internships and are prepared for advanced study and work in the field of graphic design. Internship partners include Blue Label Design, Froogle Printing, RGM Signs, Special Tees, and Wicked Stitches.
Study includes structures, space, color, and form. Focus on hand drafting, architectural design, model making, and sketching. Students will learn industry standard software (AutoCAD & Revit); seniors complete projects culminating in portfolios for college entrance. Internship partners include E.B. Pritchard Architecture & Glass, Island Engineering, IMC Architecture, and Steven Savino Architect.
Students use an industry standard curriculum (NATEF) that covers all facets of automotive repair. Students will learn Steering and Suspension, Brakes and Electricity/Electronics and Engine Performance. Students must take industry exams for certification. Internships are available for eligible students. Internship partners include Blackler Air, DANA Lincoln/Ford, Demas Auto, Gotham Motorcycles, Lombardi Harley Davidson, Max Fleet, Millers Tug & Barge, and MTA.
Integrated program that leads to industry based certification. Students are prepared for entry-level positions in construction trades. Curriculum includes carpentry and mechanical construction and CNC Router and MasterCam production. Students are prepared for college and industry positions. Internship partners include E.B. Pritchard Architecture & Glass, Millers Tug and Barge, NYC Division of School facilities, Scaran HVAC, and RGM Signs.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Golf, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams