West End Secondary School

Grades 6-8
Noteworthy
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What’s Special

New 6-12 school in District 3 with a focus on interdisciplinary learning

The Downside

Too soon to tell

Our Review

West End Secondary School (WESS) opened in 2015 to much local excitement: At last, District 3 would have a combined middle-high school that gives priority in admission to children who live in the district. In short order, Principal Jessica Jenkins and her staff have built a well-run, nurturing school with happy chatter in the hallways and substantive discussion in the classrooms. Students are on a first-name basis with their teachers and the young staff is eager to engage them.

When Beacon High School moved to a new building in Hells Kitchen, West End Secondary took over the space. It will add a grade each year until it serves 700 to 800 children in grades 6-12.

The school is built on the philosophy of expeditionary learning, the idea that "children develop critical thinking skills and perseverance when they study topics deeply," says Jenkins, who founded the successful Marsh Avenue Expeditionary School on Staten Island. Students participate in several 12-week-long projects or expeditions each year, as interdisciplinary projects are known.

A study of the pollution of the Hudson River, for example, led to the dissection of oysters in science, the creation of documentary films with help from Take2 Film Academy, graphs of water quality data in math and a study of how major waterways (like the Nile in Egypt) have shaped ancient civilizations in social studies. Students took their work further, creating a Change.org petition to ask Governor Cuomo to renovate the city's outdated sewer system. Children created shadowbox landscapes of the Hudson River in art class and read Flush by Carl Hyacinth, a novel about kids who discover illegal dumping in their town.

"We promote collaboration, but we want students to have choice in how they learn," Jenkins says of the focus on group projects, noting that some students naturally like to lead and brainstorm while others might prefer research. All 8th-graders must make a presentation to a group of parents, peers and teachers based on their portfolio of work.

Students have gym four times a week, and recess takes place in a park around the corner from the school (because there is no yard). Electives include coding, art, film-making, modern dance and music (keyboarding or drums); while after-school choices include meditation, crochet, drama, scrapbooking, and creative writing.

There is also a traveling basketball team, a math team, speech & debate, and a seasonal musical. We spoke to a 7th-grader who had just nabbed the part of Adelaide in the schools production of Guys & Dolls, a feat she said was made easier because of the friendly environment of auditions. "Teachers who teach us in after-school are the same teachers we have in class," she said, noting that everyone gets a part.

The school only had grades 6 and 7 at the time of our visit, but plans for the high school include AP courses and plenty of Regents prep, a comprehensive sports program and courses such as "Geometry: Loci, Symmetry and Through the Looking Glass" and "Existential Literature: The Stranger, the Self and the Setting."

There are plans for a hydroponic science lab, a green wall, a renovated black box theater and a STEM media lab. The building is sparkling but has some quirks: pillars in the gym make team play difficult.

Special education: The school has two sections of ICT (integrated co-teaching) per grade that combine students with special needs and their peers in one class with two teachers. The ICT model will continue into high school, Jenkins said.

Admissions: Screened, priority District 3. In addition to a tour, students are asked to come in for a one-on-one meeting with a staffer to discuss their most recent work. Jenkins says she is looking for a range of learners. Most students hail from the southern end of the district but administration hopes to continue reaching other schools outside its immediate neighborhood. Busing is available for 6th-graders. (Aimee Sabo, February, 2017)

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

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2016-17 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
94%
78% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
93%
83% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
25%
51% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
100%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
94%
82% Citywide Average

From 2015-16 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
1%
4% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
47%
72% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school
2.0

How do students perform academically?

From 2017 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
63%
29% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
71%
36% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2017-18 Demographic Snapshot

Enrollment
339
Asian
8.0%
Black
6.0%
Hispanic
19.0%
White
63.0%
Other
4.0%
Free or reduced priced lunch
19%
Students with disabilities
22%
English language learners
1%

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
96%
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
7%
22% Citywide Average

From 2018 School Directories

Uniforms required?
Yes

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2017 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
37%
10% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
33%
12% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs and Admissions

West End Secondary School
Admissions Method: Screened
Program Description

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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Location

227-243 West 61st Street
Manhattan NY 10023
Upper West Side (District 3)
Trains: 1 to 66th St - Lincoln Center; 2, A, B, C, D to 59th St-Columbus Circle
Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M12, M20, M31, M5, M57, M66, M7, M72, X12, X14, X30, X42

Contact

Phone
212-245-1506
Principal
Jessica Jenkins

Other Details

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No

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