Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick

What’s Special

New suburban-style campus, hands-on activities and field trips

The Downside

Turbulent first two years, no advanced placement classes

Our Review

Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School offers the intimacy of a small high school with many of the activities and amenities its large suburban counterparts. Opened in 2008, the school shares a gleaming new campus with its sister middle school, Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning, another high school called CSI High School for International Studies, and a District 75 school for disabled students. Students have access to athletic fields, a large gymnasium, a library and a variety of afterschool activities and social programs.

McCown is part of a network of expeditionary learning schools affiliated with Outward Bound, a nonprofit organization that organizes hikes, camping trips and other activities outside the classroom to build teamwork and character. Its not just chalk and talk. The students have a lot of interaction with each other and they rely on each other, says Principal Traci Frey, a Staten Island native who took over McCown after running Edward R. Murrow High Schools science department as assistant principal.

Frey became principal after a turbulent first two years in which the school lost both its founding principal and an inexperienced interim principal. Frey notes that the period was marred by low test scores, excessive suspensions and teacher turnover. She says she has hired some excellent teachers, including some from Murrow, and is working to turn the schools reputation around. An early sign of success: 92 percent of ninth graders passed the Living Environment Regents in 2010.

On our visit, classrooms seemed orderly, and students seemed happy and engaged. Students of different races seemed to get along well: in the cafeteria, we saw white, black, Hispanic and Asian kids sit at the same tablespossibly a result of the teambuilding exercises which begin the school year. All ninth graders are assigned to a crew and a teacher who is their crew leader. Each crew goes on a weeklong camping trip. Crew members meet daily all four years of high school. (Outward Bound is supporting the trips until 2012; after that, their future is uncertain.)

Most lessons we saw centered around projects. A young science teacher, Devin Sprague, took his class into the fields behind the school to learn the difference between biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) while mapping the schoolyards surprising web of life. We learned that we are surrounded by biodiversity, said Cazina, a ninth grader. Science is really fun because the teacher is really fun, added her classmate, Shanese.

There is an emphasis on teaching concepts rather than merely facts. Goals were displayed colorfully on the wall in an 11th grade Global History class: I can describe how ideas can lead to conflict. I can explain why revolutions happen. I can explain how technological change affects social, economic and political systems.

Like many small schools, McCown offers no Advanced Placements, but Frey says she hopes to offer them in the future.

Special education: About one-quarter of students special education services including SETTS and CTT. One of the schools founders, Dorita James, is in charge of special education. From what we observed, she is a kind and patient teacher who is popular with students.

Admissions: There are no admissions requirements. Students who attend an information session get priority. (Kim Nauer, October 2010)

About the students

Enrollment
440
Asian
3.9%
Black
10.0%
Hispanic
18.9%
White
60.9%
Other
6.4%
Free or reduced priced lunch
46%
Students with disabilities
24%
English language learners
0%
Male
46%

About the school

Shared campus?
Yes
This school shares the Jerome Parker Educational Campus with two other schools
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
100%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
91%
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
25%
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
94%
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
42%
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
92%
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
67%
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
7.0
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
90%
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
87%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
90%
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79%
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
93%
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
96%
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 2 dedicated spaces for Music and Visual arts
This school has 1 licensed art teacher in Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
61%
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
46%
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
69%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
90%
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
5%
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
2%
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
40%
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
37%
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
78%
63% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
88%
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
90%
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91%
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
91%
90% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
80%
60% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School
Admissions Method: Limited Unscreened
Program Description

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English Literature and Composition, AP Spanish, AP U.S. History

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Indoor Track, Soccer, Tennis, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Flag Football, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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Location

100 Essex Drive
Staten Island NY 10314
Mid-Island (District 31)
Trains: N/A
Buses: S44, S55, S56, S59, S61, S79-SBS, S89, S91, S94, X17, X17A, X17J, X31

Contact

Phone
718-370-6950
Principal
Traci Frey
Parent Coordinator
Diana Leon Gonzalez

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