Washington Heights Academy

Grades: Pre-K, K-7
Staff Pick
202 Sherman Ave
Manhattan NY 10034
Phone: 212-304-3320

Our Insights

What’s Special

Cohesion and collaboration lead to a strong school culture

The Downside

Very limited openings for kindergarten, DOE Quality Review says more stimulation needed for top achievers

Washington Heights Academy is a small, child-centered school dedicated to the notion that active parent involvement is a key to success. Founded by parents in 2004, it is open to children from across District 6. Demand for seats is high, especially for kindergarten. Sibling preference and a full-day pre-kindergarten program filled to the brim with 54 children means that competition for kindergarten seats is fierce.

Following a period of transition after it first opened, Washington Heights Academy has stabilized and thrived under the leadership of Principal Renzo Martinez, who joined the school in 2011. Lynne Herndon, a founding parent and the schools ELL coordinator, credits the schools success to one of its sustaining principles: A successful learning environment places relationships among teachers, students, families and other community members at its center. There is a long-standing dedicated staff with limited turnover. Assistant Principal Mercedes Diaz, has been at the school from the very beginning, as have a number of teachers.

The school is expanding to include a middle school, beginning with two 6th-grade classes in September 2014. Also that same fall, the pre-k program is set to undergo changes in tandem with the citywide expanded pre-k program. The school's 72 half-day seats will be converted to three full-day classes for a total of 54 seats.

The building is spacious and well-equipped for the changes. There are designated technology and science labs, a large library, an art and music room and a gym that can be converted to an auditorium. Classrooms are all bright and well-organized, and each has a SMART board and two computers. All classrooms, even in the upper grade, have a rug area for class meetings and a classroom library. Class size ranges from 25 to 30 students.

On the day of our visit, teachers, administrators and staff were friendly and upbeat with each other and with students. Students were engaged in productive and interactive learning in each classroom we visited; and we saw teachers across grade levels working together in common planning periods. Students receiving pull-out support services and ELL follow the same curricular track as their general education peers. The Department of Educations Quality Review, while praising the school overall, suggested that staff could find more ways to stimulate top achievers. Herndon said this is something the school tries to address.

All students receive visual arts, music, and physical education and movement classes during the school day. Younger students have access to a small playground and there is a play yard for older classes. When we visited, the weather-precluded students from outside recess, but children were happily engaged in well-run, adult-led physical activities in the gym.

Parent and family involvement remains active and strong and is central to the mission of Washington Heights Academy. Parent Teacher Association members on campus were eager to share with us the efforts they have undertaken to welcome all parents. This year children wrote letters to their parents explaining the importance of family participation in their school activities, an idea conceived by PTA Co-President Sorelys Irizarry. As WHA expands to include middle school, the school administration hopes to maintain its strong level of parent involvement throughout those formative years.

In addition to a focus on strong academics and social-emotional growth, the school cultivates community partnerships for added enrichment. The New York Cares School Success Initiative provides two full-time Americacorp liaisons who help develop in-school programming including Saturday Academy tutoring services and a recreation program including cooking, arts and sports. They also offer an adult ESL program, math games and robotics.

A partnership with the YMHA provides literacy volunteers that work with 1st and 2nd grade. Yeshiva University students provide science enrichment during the day in nine-week sessions. After school offerings also include a playwriting program, an adult and child cooking program, track and field through the NY Roadrunners club and a 60-kid community chorus through Young People's Chorus. Inwood Community Services runs an after school, summer and school break program with between 20 and 30 free spaces available per grade (about 130 total spaces) for students.

Special education: Twenty percent of the student population is classified as ELL students and five percent of students have an IEP. Speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy are available as pull-out services. The school has two SETSS teachers.

Admissions: District wide school of choice, priority to siblings and then to pre-k students. Pre-k expanded to three full-day classes for a total of 54 seats starting in fall 2014.(Sharon McCann-Doyle, February 2014)

Read more

School Stats

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

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2019-20 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
71% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
84% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
51% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
78% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
54% Citywide Average
How many elementary school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
50% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
46% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
51% Citywide Average

From 2021 Middle School Directory

What high schools do most graduates attend?
Inwood Early College for Health and Information Technologies, and City College Academy of the Arts
Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Algebra I

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
32% Citywide Average

What is the Pre-K like?

From the NYC Program Assessment (CLASS and ECERS-R) Database through 2018-2019

Instruction: Teachers ask kids to explain their reasoning when they solve problems
Activities: Children explore art, music, sand/water, dramatic play and more
Language: Teachers talk and listen to kids in a supportive way
Interaction: Teachers ask kids good questions and invite back-and-forth conversation

Who does this school serve?

From 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners
Pre-K seats

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
93% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
23% Citywide Average

From 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2019 State ELA+Math Results Summary

How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
25% Citywide Average
How many students with disabilities scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
22% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
24% Citywide Average
How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
16% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Inwood (District 6)
Trains: A Line to Inwood - 207th St; 1 Line to 207th St
Buses: Bx12, Bx12-SBS, Bx20, Bx7, BxM1, M100


Renzo Martinez
Parent Coordinator
Alexandra Ulloa

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?

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