Young Women's Leadership School, Queens (TYWLS)
A supportive environment and high academic standards
Small gym and no outside space
One of a network of small, all-girls public schools, the Young Women’s Leadership School, Queens is a welcoming place that emphasizes academics and college-readiness and also works to help girls develop emotionally and socially.
School corridors are lined with encouraging quotes and messages cheering the girls on and recognizing their achievements. Students are friendly and polite.
Virtually 100 percent of students graduate on time and are accepted to college, with an average financial aid package of $20,000, according to Principal Mala Panday. Many will be the first in their families to attend college.
“We talk to girls as if [college] is not a choice. It’s what you do here,” the college counselor, Jessica Kane, said. She begins working closely with girls in March of their junior year but students start visiting colleges in 6th grade.
TYWLS Queens admits students based on test scores and report cards but there is a big range of academic abilities. Teachers try to address this in various ways, asking girls to help one another, or offering three versions of a similar assignment. Still, some students think they’re not getting enough help, according to a Department of Education school survey.
For their part, many teachers indicated on the survey they would like to see better training programs and more collaboration.
Classes are fairly traditional, usually starting with a lesson delivered by a teacher at the front of the room. Students then work individually or in pairs on an assignment coming out of the lesson. The Quality Review said students would benefit from more class discussion.
Science and technology are a strength, with well-equipped science labs and a high school technology elective where girls design, write and code their own video games. In a 9th grade science, girls designed and built balloon popping contraptions incorporating simple machines,
As of the 2017-2018 school year, all high school students are required to major in one of four areas—arts, business and government, education and STEM—or create a major of their own. Students take specific courses and do community service work related to their fields.
Panday said the majors should make it easier for students to decide what to concentrate on in college. “It’s giving them an earlier experience at thinking what strengths they bring to the world,” she said.
She hopes the majors will also boost the college readiness rate among the Queens school graduates. Although that rate is about average for the city, it lags behind the school’s other statistics. To address that, students at the school who pass the Regents exams but do not score well enough to be considered college ready will get additional help and take the test a second, or even third time. A business algebra class is targeted at preparing the girls for college work.
Beginning in 2018, all 8th graders will take the algebra Regents exam. Some also take the Earth Science Regents.
The small school has three full-time counselors. They are there, Panday says, so that all students—many of whom come from single-parent homes and may be juggling work and school—know there is an adult at school to whom they can talk.
One senior described the school as “beautiful, a sisterhood.” Another said, “Since it’s a female school, we’re getting to have more of a voice.” But, even without boys there is still emotional drama, two 10th graders said–in fact, they agreed, there may be even more than at a co-ed school.
Being part of the Young Women’s Leadership Network allows TYWLS Queens to offer more opportunities than usual for a school of its size, including grants for teachers, internships for students, trips and an array of clubs.
About half of the middle school students stay for high school. Those who leave often want a co-ed school or one with more sports. TWYLS Queens has a small gym and no outside space, forcing its champion track team to practice by running through the halls and up and down the stairs.
ADMISSIONS: Girls from throughout Queens may apply to middle school. Sixth graders are selected on the basis of their 4th grade record and test scores. Continuing middle school students have priority for admission to the high school, followed by Queens residents and then students from elsewhere in the city, Selection criteria for high school include grades, test scores, and attendance. (Gail Robinson, November 2017)
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Programs and Admissions
Arabic, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English Language and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP U.S. History
Girls PSAL teams
Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track
Jamaica NY 11432
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