Young Women's Leadership School, Astoria (TYWLS)
All-girls school with strong leadership
Gym and auditorium across the street from school building
The Young Women's Leadership School in Astoria is a safe school where a diverse group of girls come together to develop the academic skills, assertiveness and confidence necessary for college. The school boasts excellent attendance rates and students do well in all subject areas even though teachers may have less experience than at other schools.
The girls wear neat navy uniforms and a sweater with the school crest. Some young women wear head scarves, while others sport bouncy ponytails. Students represent many countries, including Tibet, Morocco, Russia, Afghanistan, and a number of Latin American nations. Many TYWLS students will become the first in their families to attend college. (The first graduating class will be in 2013.)
TYWLS-Astoria was modeled on the original TYWLS in East Harlem, where Principal Laura Mitchell worked as assistant principal for two years. The Astoria location is the most ethnically diverse of the TYWLS schools, all of which are sponsored by the Young Women's Leadership Foundation, a New York City-based not-for-profit that helps establish single-sex schools. [Mitchell left the school in 2014 to take the job of district superintendant of schools in Garrison, New York. Principal Lisa Lauritzen worked as a coach for teachers for the Department of Education for several years and has experience as an assistant principal at Science Skills Center High School in Brooklyn Heights.]
The school requires students to perform 50 hours of community service and pays a lot of attention to building community. Students are supported in small advisory groups focused on female adolescent development and positive self-image. Teachers assign projects that give girls an opportunity to work together.
Most teachers report that they feel respected and supported by the principal, who promotes open communication, according to the Learning Environment Survey. On the same survey, almost all students say teachers give them extra help when they need it and inspire them to learn. Parents feel welcome and report that the school has high expectations for their children.
The school is housed in a former Catholic school with wood floors, and cubbies and hooks for coats. Classrooms are spacious. An old-fashioned combination gym and auditorium (called a "gymatorium") is located across the street.
Sports include archery, basketball, rugby, soccer and track and field. The school is partnered with PowerPlay, an all-female sports organization with all-female coaches.
Special education: On the Learning Environment Survey most teachers and students report that students with disabilities are included in all school activities.
After school: The Young Women's Leadership Foundation helps support many activities, including Girl Scouts, dance, digital photography and other arts. Nearly all girls participate.
Admissions: The school gives priority to District 30 residents. Students and parents are asked to write short essays and must attend the school's open house. Mitchell says the school is looking for "buy in" from the families and seeks students "who are willing to wear a uniform, are interested in early college awareness, who will work hard and be here every day." (Pamela Wheaton, April 2007; Lydie Raschka, DOE statistics, November 2012; principal update December 2014)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
Are students prepared for high school?
How many graduate?
Are students prepared for college?
How does this school serve English Language Learners?
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Programs and Admissions
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Psychology, AP Studio Art: 2-D Design
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Bowling, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Table Tennis, Volleyball
Astoria NY 11102