Small, welcoming school with strong ties to the community
Attendance rate has a ways to go; very limited sports
El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice is a small school with strong ties to its Williamsburg community. Founded in 1993 by organizers from the community group El Puente, the school retains its activist mission.
El Puente is part of the New York Performance Consortium, a group of schools exempt from administering all but the English Regents exam. Projects, presentations, reading, writing and rich class discussions are emphasized in all grades. In the 11th and 12th grades, students must complete PBATs (performance-based assessment tasks), which involve extensive research and reading as well as writing and presenting papers in English, math, history and science on topics of their own choosing,
Class sizes are kept small, which helps teachers get to know and serve a broad range of students—lifting up struggling ones while challenging high achievers. Students overwhelmingly say they feel safe at the school and report that bullying among classmates is not prevalent, based on their responses to the NYC School Survey.
A study by the Stanford Center for Opputunity Policy in Education highlighted El Puente for its nurturing environment and emphasis on social-emotional learning.
"The small corridors with classrooms on the second through fourth floors provide a sense of intimacy. Student work and school banners decorate the walls. Larger-than-life original murals of human rights activists, including Rosa Parks and Huey Newton, anchor the staircase landings. The office hums with students, facilitators, and staff passing in and out; everyone is greeted kindly, by name. There is a sense of liveliness as students change classes or anticipate after-school events and activities," the authors of the study noted.
Many teachers are bilingual and find ways to integrate social justice and Latino culture topics into lessons to make them relevant to their predominantly Latino student population. For example, in a study on how gentrification affects the Williamsburg community, students interviewed local residents and produced a documentary about how rising housing costs have forced many families to leave the neighborhood.
One El Puente teacher was nominated for a NY Daily News Hometown Hero Award for his work in encouraging English language learners to write and reflect on their daily life. Students act out plays, such as the Pulitzer Prize–winning Anna in the Tropics (addresses migration from Cuba to Florida), and read poems such as Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to My Socks,” which inspires them to research and write about their own heritage and daily life.
Students may take college courses for free at CUNY Medgar Evers and Touro College.
Despite El Puente’s strengths, some challenges persist. Student attendance is below the citywide average.
Tina Lee, a former teacher at El Puente, was appointed the school's new principal. She takes over from longtime principal Wanda Vasquez, who stepped down at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
Arts classes include drama, set design and guitar. Students showcase their talents during performances at school events such Revolution Day, Unity Day and the Fly Girl Festival.
The school provides SAT prep and arranges visits to college campuses.
There are very limited sports options, but students may participate in a range of clubs, arts and academic-help options after school. The school's cycling club is popular.
(Linda Littlefield via interviews and web reports, June 2018; updated Aug. 2020; photo from school's Facebook page)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice
Project-focused curriculum including portfolio-based assessment in all four disciplines, peer mentoring, and leadership development, integrated arts across the curriculum, CUNY Early College Dual Credit, SAT/PSAT college and ELA Common Core prep.
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Contact & Location
250 Hooper Street
Brooklyn NY 11211
Trains: to Broadway; , to Hewes St; to Marcy Av
Buses: B24, B32, B39, B44, B44-SBS, B46, B48, B57, B60, B62, Q54, Q59
This school is in its own building.