Emma Lazarus High School
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College prep classes for new immigrants
Not all students graduate
The Emma Lazarus High School offers small classes and a challenging college-prep curriculum for older students who are new to this country and still learning English. Many of the students have had low levels of education in their home countries and face financial hardships as they adjust to life in the United States.
Not all students graduate, but more than half of those who do earn a demanding Advanced Regents diploma, a rate that’s well above the citywide average. Newsweek ranked Emma Lazarus one of the top schools in the country in terms of preparing at-risk students for college.
“Everyone is equal and supports each other here,” one student told a visitor as part of the Quality Review. “I feel comfortable speaking English in class, even if I say the wrong word.”
Classes are taught in English, but many of the staff speak other languages and have taught outside the United States. Many teachers are trained to teach English as a Second Language as well as history, science or math.
"We have 18 languages spoken here," Principal Melody Kellogg said, with Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish the most prevalent. Students with different native languages are grouped together in class to encourage them to speak English.
Members of the student government make sure that new students have someone to sit with at lunch, according to the Quality Review. Each student meets weekly with an adviser to discuss academic as well as social or emotional issues. Advisers call home each day a student is absent or late and comes up with strategies to improve attendance plans if needed. Overall, attendance is high.
Students take frequent class trips to improve their English and learn more about the city. The school has partnerships with New York City Mission Society's Learning to Work Program, Lincoln Center's LEAD program, the New York City Horticultural Society, and TADA! Youth Theater.
A downside: The school has an above-average drop-out rate—perhaps not surprising given the challenges the students face.
ADMISSIONS: The school accepts English language learners who are at least 16 years old. Students are accepted throughout the year. (Clara Hemphill, web reports, April 2018)Read more