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The James Baldwin School: A School for Expeditionary Learning

Grades: 9-12
351 West 18th Street
Manhattan NY 10011
Phone: 212-627-2812

Our Insights

What’s Special

Rock climbing, sailing and a second chance at success

The Downside

Some students want more challenge; Building undergoing repair

The James Baldwin School offers a different approach to learning that seems to work for lots of kids who have been unsuccessful elsewhere. Children practice yoga, learn to sail, go rock climbing and take classes like "Math for Social Justice," which makes math relevant to students’ lives. Teachers work to help teens get to college even if it takes more than four years.

Students are not required to take Regents exams. Instead, all 11th and 12th graders must complete “Portfolio Based Assessments” called PBATs in each class. In Math for Social Justice students created a budget for a fictional company and researched Bureau of Labor statistics, for example.

The atmosphere is orderly but relaxed. Children do not wear uniforms and teachers are on a first name basis with students, according to parent coordinator Jeanette Aybar. There are two teachers in most classrooms.

Students of different ages work together in small advisory groups called “crew”—a feature of all schools, like Baldwin, that are part of the NYC Outward Bound network. New students bond with their crew during a camping trip. Other local and farther-afield expeditions are also common, including trips to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Crews stay together all four years.

Students transfer in to Baldwin from other high schools. Because each student may need different courses to graduate, most classes combine kids from different grades and some courses may fulfill a few requirements. “We are always looking into new ways for students to gain credits and get greater support once they are here,” Aybar said.

Many teens are overcoming enormous challenges, according to the yearly plan.  Some are homeless, others come from foster care or are parents themselves. Many have had spotty attendance records and have had negative experiences with school. Although most children graduate on time, not many are ready for college-level work by the time they graduate. On school surveys, some children say they do not feel challenged in class. Teachers are working to improve instruction, according to the yearly plan.

The school, housed in the Bayard Rustin Educational Campus, is shared with five other schools. The building is undergoing an upgrade, Aybar said. The 6th floor, where all schools share space, is beautifully renovated; the floor occupied by Humanities Prep and James Baldwin, though clean, has some peeling paint.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: There is a full-time counselor, and an assistant from the NYC Outward Bound network. About half of the graduates go on to attend four-year colleges, another 40 percent to two-year colleges. Acceptances include Howard University, Trinity and City University of New York schools. Some children pursue the military or work, but college remains an option if they want to pursue it. “Graduates always come back to work with our college office,” Aybar said.

ADMISSIONS: A transfer school, Baldwin attracts students from a wide range of schools, including charters, larger high schools, and selective schools like Millenium and Brooklyn Latin. Admissions periods take place in December and January. Aybar said there is an emphasis on writing. Students are interviewed and asked to give a writing sample. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and interview, May 2018; updated Aug. 2020)

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School Stats

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

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
86% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
79% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
76% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

Transfer school graduation rate
52% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
48% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2019-20 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
68% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Chelsea (District 2)
Trains: 1 Line to 18th St; 2 Line, 3 Line, F Line, M Line to 14th St; A Line, C Line, E Line, L Line to 14th St-8th Ave
Buses: M11, M12, M14A, M14D, M20, M23, M55, M7


Crystal Davis
Parent Coordinator
Jeanette Aybar

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares the Bayard Rustin Educational Campus with five other schools
Metal detectors?

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