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Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS)

Grades: Pre-K, K-12

Our Insights

What’s Special

Trips, projects and in-depth studies

The Downside

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. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, June 2018; updated June 2019)

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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 2021-22 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
875 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2022-23 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
313 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, 2021-22 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 Report on School-Based Staff Demographics, 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


Not offered in 2019-20

Computer Science

Not offered in 2019-20


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 2021-22 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 and 2021-22 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2022-23 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

Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.

Program Description:

Students participate in interdisciplinary learning across all subject areas.


From the 2021 High School Directory

Language Courses

Latin, Spanish

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

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

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


511 West 182nd Street
Manhattan NY 10033

Trains: 1 Line to 181st St; A Line to 175th St

Buses: Bx11, Bx13, Bx18, Bx3, Bx35, Bx36, Bx7, M100, M101, M3, M4, M5, M98


Principal: Thomas Rochowicz

Parent Coordinator: Rosemary Aquino


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with JHS 143

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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