Girls-only school with a high graduation rate
Concerns by staff and students about discipline and order
Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS) of Brooklyn has an excellent high school graduation rate and empowers girls to take charge in many ways, from leading school tours to producing a literary magazine. During senior year, each girl delivers a talk in front of her peers based on her college admissions essay. The expectation is that all students will attend college.
Class size is small and the tone is serious yet also playful—girls wear uniforms but they get to choose the color shirt they wear, and we saw a teacher in sparkly silver hi-top shoes, and another wearing a tie with flags on it to celebrate a unit on different types of government.
At TYWLS, girls raised in strict, traditional religious homes learn alongside girls who identify as lesbian or transgender. No matter what their backgrounds parents seem pleased by the increase in confidence they see in their daughters, “that sense that girls can do anything they put their minds to,” a father said.
Many girls travel on the L train and walk several blocks past trendy café’s and new housing to the big brick building TYWLS shares with PS 147, near Bushwick public houses. Teachers stand outside to greet the girls as they arrive. “This is not a safe neighborhood,” said the mother of a 6th grader who lives locally. “It’s still violence and gangs. To see the security guard and three teachers at the door—you feel safe.”
Teachers seek to build a strong academic foundation over seven years, rather than push “drill and kill” skills practice early; they do not offer high school-level (Regents) classes in middle school. Advanced Placement classes include AP computer science, AP calculus AB and AP English literature.
The goal is to get all the girls ready to do college-level work by the time they leave TYWLS, said Catherine Mitchell, who became principal in 2016. According to the data on college-readiness, the school is getting closer to meeting its goal: 49 percent were college-ready in 2017, compared to 30 percent in 2016.
Mitchell, a graduate of Brown University and former English teacher, says she is “very comfortable with math,” and she has put in place initiatives to boost TYWLS’s mediocre math test scores. Teachers work with coaches from Metamorphosis, a math think-tank that emphasizes kids talking about math, and learning by doing. Instruction is a combination of different math programs, including self-paced online lessons.
The school offers lots of support, parents said. A 6th grader with anxiety issues meets in a three-person advisory group rather than in the larger group, said her mother. There are small classes for teens with special needs. A father said teachers email back quickly, and parents can check their child’s progress online.
Students who can afford it may take advantage of yearly overseas trips to places such as to South Africa, Costa Rica or Paris. All teens take field trips closer to home, for example, to the Berkshires, where they enjoy an educational nighttime walk.
After school clubs include sewing, technology, dance and theater in the middle school, and acting, photography, track team and rock band in the high school. Spanish is the only foreign language.
A downside: Roughly 30 percent of the girls think bullying is a problem at TYWLS, according to NYC School Surveys. To address this, teachers have been trained to manage conflicts in the classroom, Mitchell said. We saw the dean and guidance counselor meeting with students privately on our visit and girls are referred for counseling as needed. “We’re working on it,” Mitchell said.
Graduates have gone on to attend Barnard University, Howard University, and a variety of City University of New York, and State University of New York schools.
ADMISSIONS: All-girls school; Open to students and residents of Brooklyn and Queens. (Lydie Raschka, October 2017; updated 2022)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or Science
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
The Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn
TYWLS offers an academically rigorous college prep program to all of our students.
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Calculus AB, AP Psychology, AP English Literature and Composition, AP English Language and Composition
Girls PSAL teams
Contact & Location
325 Bushwick Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11206
Trains: , to Flushing Ave; to Montrose Ave
Buses: B15, B43, B46, B47, B48, B57, B60, Q54, Q59
This school shares the building with PS 147