Urban Assembly School for Leadership and Empowerment

Grades: 6-12
Staff Pick for Special Ed Noteworthy

Our Insights

What’s Special

Supportive all-girls school offers lots of writing.

The Downside

No science lab; limited chemistry and physics offered.

The Urban Assembly School for Leadership and Empowerment (formerly the Urban Assembly School for Criminal Justice), an ethnically and racially diverse school for girls, aims to empower its students and prepare them for a college liberal arts education. It serves an increasing number of students from conservative Muslim backgrounds--girls who, school administrators say, might not attend public school, were it not for the option of single-sex education.

Founding Co-principal Mariela Graham says girls gain self-confidence, develop a voice and are more likely to participate in class than some students at co-ed schools. And says founding Co-principal Nathalie Jufer, “The girls actively play at recess-–even at the high school level.”

The small size, along with the fact that many students remain at Urban Assembly for 7 years, gives the school a warm atmosphere. Faculty and other staff seems to know all the students, and extra efforts are made to support students from challenging backgrounds. Test scores and graduation rates exceed the city average.

The school’s strength is English and history. Girls in 9th grade feminist literature-–a required course said to be almost everyone’s favorite class-– discussed the pros and cons of women who are not Muslim wearing head coverings to express their support for Muslims. Girls identifying themselves as Christians and as Muslims plunged into the debate, keeping their voices down and their tempers cool.

Students read extensively and do one short writing assignment a marking period in each of academic subjects, including math. Teachers stress the presentation of evidence, pulling information from readings and encourage students to help and challenge each other respectfully. On our visit, classes were uniformly attentive and organized.

Girls work in pairs or small groups on in class assignments, such as determining what factors affects body fat. A 6th grade math class used blocks to figure out averages. When a girl described how her group had solved it, another student gently corrected her: “I think you confused the median and the mean,” she said.

An 11th grade environmental science class had an animated discussion about whether homes made of empty plastic bottles could alleviate housing shortages in the United States. A downside: The school is still waiting for a long-promised science lab and does not always offer either chemistry or physics. Although the school has “criminal justice” in its name, it no longer offers classes related to that theme.

Graham and her staff believe the emphasis on presenting arguments and writing skills will enable girls to get to college and succeed once they get there. An overnight college trip open to all students is offered every year, as well as a mother-daughter college trip. A full-time college counselor works with students starting in 9th grade and teaches a mandatory college writing class for seniors. Most students go to CUNY schools, although some have traveled outside the city to SUNY colleges or private schools.

Urban Assembly offers one Advanced Placement exam in each major subject area and lets some 8th graders take the algebra Regents exam. In most grades there one class with both students who are proficient in English and English language learners (ELL), the largest number of whom speak Bengali, Urdu or Arabic. The ELL classes have a second teacher for at least part of the day.

The school shares its building with J.H.S. 223 The Montauk, with Urban Assembly occupying one and a half floors. Each school has its own full gym but some facilities are shared and space is tight.

Special education: Urban Assembly offers ICT classes with two teachers and a mix of students with disabilities and general education students in middle school and for much of high school. There are no self-contained classes

Admissions: Middle school admission is open to girls from Brooklyn. Applicants are selected at random. More than 60 percent remain for high school. There are about 80 seats for incoming 9th graders and a few for 10th graders. Priority goes to Brooklyn students who attend an information session. (Gail Robinson, May 2017; updated with new school name, October 2020 )

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?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
611 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2020-21 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
8 Citywide Average
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
226 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, 2020-21 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 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



Computer Science

Not offered in 2019-20



Advanced Foreign Language


AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science


AP/IB Math or Science



Not offered in 2019-20
From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2019-20 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 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2020-21 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

The Urban Assembly School for Criminal Justice

Admissions Method: Open

Program Description:

Students will be taught to think critically cased on our Critical Thinking Framework which includes close reading of rich texts, discussion, and argumentative writing. This framework is used across the disciplines and prepares our students for college and career.


From the 2021 High School Directory

Language Courses


Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Environmental Science, AP United States History, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Calculus AB

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

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


4200 16th Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11204

Trains: F Line to Ditmas Ave

Buses: B11, B16, B35, B67, B69, B8


Principal: Natalie Jufer


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with JHS 223

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No


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