High School for Environmental Studies

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick

Our Insights

What’s Special

Strong enviromental studies curriculum; lots of internships and honors and college-level courses

The Downside

Graduation rate for students with special needs has a ways to go

The High School for Environmental Studies (HSES) is changing for the better thanks to a renewed commitment to its environmental theme, more support for struggling students, and a nice array of elective, honors and college-level courses. The school has an impressive range of partnerships, and many students participate in internships throughout the city.

Though the highly selective Honors Academy only admits a small group of students, there are plenty of honors classes and college-level courses open to all who qualify. We met several 11th-graders in an Advanced Placement (AP) biology class who were taking a challenging load of AP and honors classes even though they weren't in the Honors Academy.

During our visit, we saw lots of engaging instruction. Many classrooms were nicely decorated and lined with student projects; students seemed relaxed and attentive. Students write essays in all subjects, not just English and history; hands-on work is commonplace too. The school received mainly top marks for instruction and environment in its most recent Quality Review.

“Teachers go out of their way to make the lessons relatable,” said a senior.

The school overhauled its guidance strategy to address complaints that there was not enough support for students who were falling behind. Guidance counselors now work with the same group of students for all four years, which helps the counselors get to know them better. Teachers serve as mentors to struggling students to ensure that they don’t slip through the cracks; the staff also identifies the lowest-performing third of all incoming freshman and assigns each one of them a mentor as well.

All freshman take an Intro to Environment course that was developed in partnership with the University of Vermont and Shelbourne Farms—a nonprofit that helps schools educate about sustainable farming. All 10th-graders take an ethics course, where they examine issues from both outcome-based (what’s the best or most efficient) and duty-based (what’s the most moral) perspectives. With support from Cornell University, the school is overhauling its rooftop garden to create hydroponic and aquaponic labs.

A new video and audio production studio is being built with support from CBS. Students will develop films that focus on environmental storytelling using a curriculum developed by the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at New York University.

There’s a range of AP courses offered, including multiple sections of AP Environmental Science and BC Calculus. Students may earn college credit for taking courses in advanced ethics and economics, which were developed by the University of Vermont and SUNY College of Environment Science and Forestry, respectively.

An internship program targets mainly 10th-graders, though students in all grades may participate. Each year students fan out across the city, interning at places such as the New York Botanical Gardens, New York Hall of Science, the Manhattan Borough President’s office and the City Parks Foundation.

Foreign language instruction is offered in Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and French. There is a nice range of electives, sports and extracurricular activities. In a culinary arts class we observed, students were creating “mindful meals,” using food grown from sustainable farms.

Students may study theater, music and visual arts. Gym electives include yoga, weight training and dance, the latter taught by an instructor from the nearby Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

There is also a nice variety of boys and girls sports teams, as well as plenty of student-run clubs.

A full-time college counselor along with guidance counselors meet with 11th-graders multiple times during their scheduled English class to walk them through the application and financial aid process. Tenth-graders are introduced to the college process through an introductory seminar. Many graduates attend CUNY and SUNY schools, and some attend private and out-of-state colleges.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school has ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes and SETSS.

ADMISSIONS: The Honors Academy admits roughly 30 students based on a review of their grades, test scores, and records of attendance and punctuality. It typically has many more applicants than available seats. Admission to the Environmental Studies programs, which is most of the school, is based on the educational option formula, designed to ensure a mix of students of different abilities. (Laura Zingmond, May 2018)



School Stats


How many students graduate in 4 years?
How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
Average daily attendance
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
624 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

How many students were suspended?
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
Years of principal experience at this school
7 Citywide Average
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
157 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
Are teachers effective?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2020-21 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Advanced Courses

Which students have access to advanced courses at this school? Learn more



Computer Science



Not offered in 2019-20

Advanced Foreign Language


AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science


AP/IB Math or Science



From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2019-20 school year provided by the New York State Education Department, brought to you by

College Readiness

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2020-21 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought you by
How many graduates of this school received Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding to attend a NYS college?
How many of those TAP recipients made it through college? Learn more
From unpublished, anonymized student-level data for the class of 2014 provided by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) in coordination with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), brought to you by
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2021 High School Directory

Environmental Studies

Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.

Program Description:

Interdisciplinary program emphasizing environmental studies: the natural environment, the urban environment, and environmental ethics. Students are expected to engage in research, environmental projects and internships, and complete a senior thesis.

Honors Academy

Admissions Method: Screened

Program Description:

Mathematics and science research, work in university laboratories.


From the 2021 High School Directory

Language Courses

French, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP World History: Modern, AP Psychology, AP Calculus AB, AP Statistics, AP Environmental Science, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science Principles, AP United States History, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Biology

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Handball, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Handball, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on NYCDOE’s MySchools

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


444 West 56th Street
Manhattan NY 10019

Trains: 1 Line, A Line, C Line, B Line, D Line to 59th St-Columbus Circle; E Line to 50th St; N Line, Q Line, R Line, W Line to 57th St

Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M12, M20, M31, M5, M50, M57, M66, M7, X1, X12, X14, X30, X42, X7, X9


Principal: Heather DeFlorio

Parent Coordinator: Jeremy Feliciano


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with Independence HS

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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