Renaissance Charter School

Grades Pre-K, K-12
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
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Location

35-59 81st Street
Queens NY 11372
Jackson Heights (District 30)

Contact

Phone
718-803-0060
Principal
Stacey Gauthier

What’s Special

Small, close-knit, pre-k-12 school community

The Downside

No outside space, long waitlist

Our Review

Imagine a large, nearly windowless cube filled with big and little kids playing games together, colorful student murals, and blue jean-clad students on a first-name basis with their teachers. This is Renaissance Charter, a small, unique, super-popular pre-K12 school that prides itself on personalized, relevant, project-based learning for students of all abilities.

Renaissance has a long history of integrating children with special needs in regular classes. Principal Stacey Gaulthier is particularly sensitive to learning differences: Her own son, who has dyslexia, graduated from Renaissance and went on to graduate from law school. Renaissance shares the building with a small District 75 school for children with autism, who have been integrated into the general education classrooms, some going on to colleges such as Pace University.

Teachers stay and build their careers here, and one helped design the interior of the building, which is a former a department store. There are interior windows so you can peer into classrooms, colorful couches, and centrally located tables on each floor, where teens like to gather to eat the excellent breakfast omelets, made by Chef Mo, the school's head cook.

Squarely in the progressive camp, the school works to ensure children take class trips, do hands-on projects, participate in an array of arts, and debate the issues of the day. A highlight is the school's weeklong celebration of learning called "Rensizzle" (named for Dr. Joseph Renzulli, the director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented), which exemplifies the school's project-based teaching style. Some or all the traditional classes are cancelled (depending on the grade), as students explore a topic such as robotics, journalism or animal care, with trips to places like Howe Caverns, Huffington Post, the Bronx Zoo, the Tenement Museum or the Brooklyn Bridge.

Class trips and projects allow students to learn and to show their understanding in a variety of ways. For instance, students who have trouble reading a science textbook may study geology through a trip to the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Global humanities classes use history lessons to create plays about Apollo and Aphrodite or Hindu legends. Children in grades 4-6 take a five-day trip to Lake George where they learn about environmental science and reenact scenes from the Underground Railroad.

As they move through the grades, students take part in dance, fine arts, drama, and vocal and instrumental music. In grades 7 and 9, students rotate different art forms before selecting one arts' major to explore in depth. Anyone in grade 8 and up can audition for the school play.

High school students must participate in a leadership, volunteer or internship program each semester. We saw 9th grade students leading games in a 2nd grade class and a girls leadership group called Sadie Nash. "I was shy at first," said a 9th grader transfer student who found good friends in her leadership group. "Here we have space to talk about our issues as women." The Global Kids group picks social justice issues to explore such as poverty or health.

The school has a nice selection of advanced placement and honors classes ranging from human geography to Spanish literature. Starting in their junior year, students may take college classes at Queens College and LaGuardia Community College.

The school has no outdoor space, but it does have an indoor playground, and pre-kindergartners visit a playground down the block.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school accommodates children with a wide range of disabilities, including autism, dyslexia, visual impairment, and emotional and physical handicaps. They participate in all elements of student life, from student government to the National Honors Society. Many of the school's teachers are dually certified in special education and another subject. We saw adults working one-on-one in the classroom and in small groups in separate rooms.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: There is a well-designed college advisory course. Nearly all students are accepted into colleges, including CUNY and SUNY colleges and some very selective schools like Wellesley and Barnard.

ADMISSIONS: Renaissance accepts one incoming pre-kindergarten class of 18 students. Each year, about half-a-dozen spots open in kindergarten and there is one class of new 5th graders. There is one class per grade in PK-4 and two per grade in 5-12. Priority is given first to siblings of enrolled students and then to residents of District 30. All available seats are awarded by lottery throughout all the grades as they come available. Applications for these grades are automatically wait listed and will be considered if openings occur; however, the waitlist is generally over 2,500 students long. (Lydie Raschka, March 2016)

About the students

Enrollment
568
Pre-K seats
18
Asian
17.6%
Black
7.4%
Hispanic
61.3%
White
12.5%
Other
1.2%
Free or reduced priced lunch
76%
Students with disabilities
17%
English language learners
6%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
No
Metal detectors?
No
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?
10%
15% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
74%
76% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
20%
21% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
84%
88% Citywide Average
How many teachers say their students are safe outside around this school?
100%
81% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
60%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
87%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
82%
84% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
83%
82% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
87%
84% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
81%
83% Citywide Average

Do parents like the school?

How many parents responded to the school survey?
59%
64% Citywide Average
How many parents say they are invited to visit classrooms?
74%
73% Citywide Average
How many parents say this school offers enough courses, activities and services to keep their children interested in school?
87%
85% Citywide Average
How many parents say their child's teacher helped their child adjust to Pre-K?
100%
100% Citywide Average
How many parents say this Pre-K program helped them consider which elementary schools would meet their childrens' needs?
92%
92% Citywide Average
How many Pre-K parents say their child's teacher gave helpful ideas for how to support their child's learning?
100%
100% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
51%
56% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
38%
52% Citywide Average

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
63%
73% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
39%
51% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
67%
72% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
44%
46% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
99%
91% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
83%
84% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
33%
45% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
60%
61% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
86%
82% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
0%
5% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

Average math score for self-contained students
2.19
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.13
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.28
2.7 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
1.91
2.5 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
69%
63% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
90%
83% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
97%
88% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
100%
87% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
44%
65% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data
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