The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers
Engaging hands-on work and positive school culture
Below average attendance
The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers delivers on its theme: it prepares students for eco-friendly jobs in construction and agriculture.
In a program called Green Buildings, students learn how to retrofit old buildings with solar panels and insulation. They learn about design, engineering, architecture, renewable energies and buildings management and maintenance. All work towards a professional GPRO (Green Professional Building Skills) certification by graduation.
In the Green Spaces program, students cultivate crops in the schools outdoor garden, design outdoor spaces, cook in the kitchen classroom and develop eco-friendly solutions to problems such as pest control. Students study agriculture, botany, forestry, landscape architecture and green technologies.
The school climate has improved markedly in recent years. The Department of Education called it well-developed, the highest possible marks on its Quality Review. However, the school still has high rates of chronic absenteeism and the graduation rate has a way to go.
During our visit, we found the schools tone to be calm and friendly. Students worked quietly together and were respectful of one another. Many academic classes serve a mix of grades. In these, older students model good behavior for the younger ones; freshmen appreciate working alongside juniors and seniors.
Teachers and staff have put in a lot of effort into creating a system of supports known as Keepers of the Culture (KOC). Students who exhibit learning or behavioral challenges receive peer mentoring and develop strategies to improve their conduct. For instance, a student may promise to not sit next to a certain friend in class in order to fend off the temptation to talk rather than work.
In all classes students have a lot of self-paced work. In a mixed-grade English class, a senior may work with a freshman on a project and shared readings and then each will tackle an independent assignment and books tailored to their skill levels and interests. In a geometry class we visited, students worked at their own pacesome were reviewing concepts with the teacher or watching a lesson on Khan Academy, while others were plowing through problem sets or creating study guides.
At the heart of academic instruction is the school's use of a program called unison reading. In most classes, students break into small groups and read aloudin unison. In English and science, students choose from magazine articles or essays on topics they are studying; in math they may review a student-created study guide and discuss how to solve problems. Whenever a student is unsure of the meaning of word or passage, or wants to address something raised in the text, the group "breaches", meaning they stop reading, discuss, jot down notes, and then get back to reading in unison.
We observed students in an English class reading and writing on topics such as mental illness, sexual identity, Buddhism, and mandatory vaccination policies. Every two weeks students are expected to submit written papers that synthesize their readings.
In addition to English studies, students take a separate class dedicated to writing where they explore their interests and develop their voice. All present their work, both drafts and polished pieces, to their class for peer review.
Students take four years of science: Earth science (9th grade), living environment (10th grade), and a two-year course in applied physics that emphasizes hands-on work and problem solving.
Classes in each subject meet three times a week for 70 minutes each. This allows teachers time to incorporate discussions and group work into lessons as well as one-on-one counseling with students. Homework tends to be an extension of classwork; students have projects and tasks to complete and whatever they dont finish in class, they work on at home.
The school has a fulltime college counselor and a partnership coordinator, who manages internship placements at places such as the United States Forest Service, Siemens and the Sustainable Directions program. Juniors take an SAT prep class during the school day, where youll find groups of students working through practice problems in unison.
Jacobs Pickles, a local eatery that supports urban gardens, helps raise funds for the school and provides paid summer internships for Green Careers students.
Green Careers opened in 2008 and is housed in the Brandeis High School Complex. All high school students in the building may participate in campus-wide sports teams.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT classes and SETSS.
ADMISSIONS: Limited unscreened. Priority to Manhattan students who attend an open house. Many students from other boroughs are admitted. (Laura Zingmond, May 2016)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
UAGC's sustainability-based technical science program engages students through both hands-on and academic exposure to the chief theories, principles, and practices within both the urban agriculture and building science fields. Within this program, students learn directly from industry experts, engage in work-site visits, compete for industry-based paid internships, and have the option to earn industry certifications. All students select their major after ninth grade.
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Soccer, Volleyball
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball
Manhattan NY 10024