Trips, projects and in-depth studies
Some children miss many days of school
Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, better known as WHEELS, offers trips, creative projects and activities that allow children to explore the world.
During a study of corn, for example, kindergartners drew corn on the husk in science, participated in a farm-to-table dance, and helped make salsa and corn fritters, a parent wrote in our comments.
“WHEELS is true holistic learning and we can't wait to watch our daughter continue to grow,” the parent said.
Founded as a middle and high school in 2006, WHEELS added pre-K and kindergarten classes in 2014, and will be a full pre-K to 12th-grade school by fall 2019.
Test scores are below average, but there are positive signs of growth. Attendance is improving, teachers work well together and nearly all would recommend the school, according to school surveys.
The school is part of the NYC Outward Bound network, a nonprofit that supports a dozen schools in the city, and follows the network’s EL Education model (formerly called expeditionary learning).
Kids meet daily in small groups of 15 with a teacher to make friends and get support. Sixth- and 9th-graders go on a camping trip that includes hiking and ropes courses. All 12th-graders participate in a two-week internship program to help them prepare for college and careers.
Trips are common here. Kindergartners work in the school garden and visit the Bronx Botanical Garden to study plants. High school students visit organic farms to learn about the food supply and travel to the Indian Point nuclear power plant to learn about energy.
Instead of traditional teacher-led conferences, children take charge. They show parents examples of their work and set goals for future performance
The school has a full-time and a part-time college counselor. Students visit college campuses and prepare applications and essays in school.
The middle and high school grades share a modern four-story building with IS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt. The building includes a health clinic and dental office, providing free services, but it lacks any significant outdoor space, so WHEELS has no recess period. Well-behaved high school students may go off campus during lunch. The school offers a range of after-school sports, but students must often take subways or buses to athletic fields on Randall’s Island or in the Bronx.
The school offers a range of instrumental music courses, including a jazz ensemble, as well as a film club and a popular after-school drama club.
ADMISSIONS: The school offers regular tours. District 6 priority. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, June 2018; updated June 2019)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
PhysicsNot offered in 2019-20
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or ScienceNot offered in 2019-20
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School
Students participate in interdisciplinary learning across all subject areas.
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Seminar, AP English Language and Composition, AP Research
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Soccer
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Soccer
Contact & Location
511 West 182nd Street
Manhattan NY 10033
Trains: to 181st St; to 175th St
Buses: Bx11, Bx13, Bx18, Bx3, Bx35, Bx36, Bx7, M100, M101, M3, M4, M5, M98
This school shares the building with JHS 143