Discover your best options

Elementary School Middle School High School

Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick for Special Ed
100 Essex Drive
Staten Island NY
Phone: 718-370-6950

Our Insights

What’s Special

Lots of trips; lovely campus and outdoor spaces

The Downside

Some students would like more feedback on their work

Students who attend Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School travel to Fishkill, New York, to hike and sleep in cabins, tackle a ropes course and make new friends. It is a safe, well-run school with experienced teachers. Most students graduate on time, including those with special needs.

The school is part of the NYC Outward Bound network, a nonprofit that emphasizes adventure and team building in school, in the city and in the wilderness.

“Learning is an expedition, not just about opening a book but about exploring in interdisciplinary ways,” said Helen Frank, director of communications at NYC Outward Bound. Expeditions may be as close to home as the fields in the school’s back yard or as far away as London and France. The network also offers “a lot of college support,” Frank said, in small advisory groups called “crews.”

All 9th-graders are assigned to a “crew” of 10 to 15 kids and a teacher who serves as crew leader. Crews stay together for all four years of high school. In junior year, the crew sets its sights on college. Students write and peer edit personal essays, work on the application process and visit college campuses.

Students take field trips related to their studies, to locations like the New Jersey Renaissance Faire or the New York Historical Society, according to the school website. Two earth science classes visited the Hudson River. Students also designed their own rivers in the classroom to conduct experiments on stream formation, erosion and deposition. They may also go into the fields behind the school to learn the difference between biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) while mapping the schoolyard's surprising web of life.

In addition to taking regular high school classes and the option of several Advanced Placement classes, all students participate in a one-week intensive in April, delving into topics such as Secrets of Staten Island, Farm2Table or Student News Network. They take trips and talk to experts about their topics and make a final presentation.

Community service is taken seriously here. Students research and choose causes that the parent association helps them support, such as the Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Teens donate blood, clean up the beach and march for a cure for cystic fibrosis.

Students do well on most tests, surveys and other measures at Gaynor McCown, but, according to school surveys, some feel they do not get the personal support and attention they need and do not always learn a lot from feedback on their work. The city’s Quality Review flagged “teaching” as a special focus.

McCown offers the intimacy of a small high school with many of the activities and perks of a large school. Opened in 2008, it shares a gleaming 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 after-school activities and social programs.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Students with special needs make good progress here, according to school data, and most graduate on time.

ADMISSIONS: Educational option, or "ed opt" aims to serve a range of children with low, middle and high English language arts scores. (Lydie Raschka, web reports and DOE data, June 2018)

Read more

School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2018-19 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
86% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
80% Citywide Average

From 2017-18 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
76% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students graduate in 4 years?
82% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
48% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average
How many graduates stay enrolled in college for at least 3 semesters?
67% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2019-20 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2018-19 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average

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

Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description:

Our school partners with NYC Outward Bound Schools and EL Education to offer student-centered learning, focused around case studies and expeditions, that incorporate fieldwork, products presented to authentic audiences, and service learning opportunities. We expect students to uphold our character traits of creativity, honesty, humor, respect, and responsibility. Students are part of a Crew that provides social and emotional support, opportunities for community service and academic tracking.


Language Courses


Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English Literature and Composition, AP United States History, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Biology, AP Human Geography, AP Spanish Language and Culture


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 NYCDOE’s MySchools
NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


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


Margaret Tang
Parent Coordinator
Diana Leon Gonzalez

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares the Jerome Parker Educational Campus with two other schools
Metal detectors?

You may also like …

Bard High School Early College

525 East Houston Street
Manhattan, NY

Gramercy Arts High School

40 Irving Place
Manhattan, NY


  • Is this your school? Please post any news, updates, events, changes, or other information!
  • We welcome questions, open discussions, and disagreements but comments with personal attacks, rude language, or those with seemingly malicious intent will be deleted.
  • Very long comments, those that contain links, or repeat comments may be blocked by our spam filter.
  • Problems? email us at [email protected].
  • Users must comply with our Terms of Use.