Quality special ed; good college help; many sports teams
Some classrooms are cramped
Central Park East High School (CPE) offers field trips, strong academics, and a full-time college counselor who has helped students get into some top colleges. The school has more sports teams than are typically offered at a small school, including a football team made up of students from a number of high schools in northern Manhattan. It has a beautiful outdoor track shared by other schools in the building.
The high school, which occupies the basement, ground floor and part of the third floor of the Jackie Robinson Education Complex, successfully integrates students receiving special education services into regular classes, many of which have two teachers. Admissions has become fiercely competitive, with nearly 5,000 applicants for 100 seats.
Principal Bennett Lieberman encourages teachers to plan lessons together because one of the problems students encounter when adjusting to high school, he says, is having "seven different teachers with seven different sets of expectations." So, for example, all teachers instruct their students how to take notes in the same way. This joint planning makes the transition to ninth grade easier, Lieberman says.
CPE students take trips throughout the school year, not only to colleges in and out of the city but also to locations such as a wastewater treatment plant to learn about pollution and water filtration. The AP Living Environment class takes seven to 10 trips per year, Lieberman says.
The majority of the students are from low-income families, and some will be the first in their families to go to college. The staff has studied how to best serve low-income students, particularly black and Latino boys, so that once they get into college they stay in college. A theater group walks teens through scenarios that may make them uncomfortable in college, such as having to stay on campus during school breaks when other students are able to fly home.
“We do a very good job both matching kids to the right college with the right financial aid package and preparing them academically and socially-emotionally" so they are not overwhelmed once they enter the "different world" of college, Lieberman says.
The school is part of a coalition of about five schools called East Harlem Pride, and teachers network with one another across the coalition. For example, Lieberman says, many 11th-grade students across the five schools complete the same unit in English, with some 200 teens gathering for a learning celebration at the end of a unit. “It builds a lot of community in East Harlem," he says. "We have fewer potential issues outside school than we would otherwise."
CPE students also come together with students from the other East Harlem Pride high schools on 16 different sports teams, including track and field, volleyball, football and softball. There is also a golf club and a cheerleading team.
The school has a full-time college counselor and graduates have been admitted to Syracuse University, Barnard, New York University, University of Chicago, Skidmore, Tufts and Cornell, Lieberman says. Roughly 70 to 80 percent go to four-year colleges, and 90 percent of those students were still in college 18 months later, according to the city’s quality review.
The school was founded by the celebrated progressive educator Debbie Meier in 1985. Under Lieberman’s leadership, it has a more traditional bent. Central Park East I elementary school, also in the building, retains its Meier-era philosophy and tone.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school is committed to integrating students with special needs into general education classes. Classroom teachers have different expectations (and different homework assignments) depending on students' strengths and weaknesses. There are team-teaching classes for all grades and all subjects. Special education teachers return year after year, providing continuity with general education teachers, Lieberman says. At-risk students are assigned to a "mentor teacher" who makes sure they receive all of the services to which they are entitled. "We've really embraced special education," Lieberman adds.
ADMISSIONS: Open houses are scheduled every fall. Students may apply from anywhere in New York City. Admission is screened, and preference is given to students with a good attendance record and grades above 89. (Lydie Raschka, web report and interview, March 2018)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or Science
MusicNot offered in 2019-20
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Central Park East
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English Literature and Composition, AP English Language and Composition, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Calculus AB, AP Environmental Science, AP United States History, AP Statistics
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Golf, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball
Contact & Location
1573 Madison Avenue
Manhattan NY 10029
Trains: , to 110th St-Central Park North; to 103rd St
Buses: BxM11, BxM2, BxM3, BxM4, M1, M101, M102, M103, M106, M116, M15, M15-SBS, M2, M3, M4, M96, M98
This school shares a building with East Harlem Scholars Academy Charter School