Bronx Compass High School
Learning academics though themes; lap tops for all
New school with no track record
Bronx Compass is for creative kids who like art, science and technology and want a say in how and what they will learn. Students create films, songs, and a digital magazine for a student-run company called Dragon Entertainment.
Opened in 2012, Bronx Compass allows students to explore different themes. The themes are digital/fine art, game design, music production, technology and engineering. By 11th grade they will focus on just one. Each student does an internship, takes classes related to the theme and completes a masters project. All students have access to a laptop computer.
Themes are taught during the school day, in after school workshops and incorporated into academic lessons. Students might write songs and make short films in humanities or use graphic design in math and science. The goal, founding Principal Stacy McCoy told us at a March 2012 high school fair, is to engage students in all their coursework by leveraging their interests.
McCoy taught at Bronx Guild, a small high school where children complete projects and internships based on their interests. She ran a digital media workshop for BG seniors that culminated in a festival of student-made films. She is also a painter, filmmaker and musician. I love art and the theme [of the new school] represents what I love, she said. Bronx Guild is located in the Stevenson Educational Complex, where Bronx Compass is also located.
With a school so focused on art and technology, a lot depends on finding multi-talented staff, and training them. Speaking on the Brian Lehrer Show, McCoy said the biggest challenge in opening a new school was finding talented staff.
Fortunately, Bronx Compass has two good partnerships. One is iZone360, a group of educators that help schools with planning and design - particularly schools that are committed to personalized learning. (One of the perks of being chosen as an Izone school is that every student gets to use a laptop.) The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA), provides support for teachers and parents, and helps teens with college readiness.
The Stevenson complex houses nine small schools that share sports teams, a library and a cafeteria. While some of the schools are performing well, two are being phased out. Students must pass through metal detectors to enter the building but on previous visits we found the atmosphere safe and welcoming.
Clubs include Tech Squad, Video Games, Fit Challenge, Campus Garden Stewards and Open Art Studios in film, music and fine art.
Admissions: Limited unscreened. Priority to Bronx students or residents who attend an information session, fair or open house. (Lydie Raschka, March 2012, interviews at the high school fair)
About the students
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Programs and Admissions
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Football, Outdoor Track, Soccer
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Indoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball