Lots of trips; lovely campus and outdoor spaces
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)
Safety & Vibe
Faculty & Staff
CalculusNot offered in 2019-20
Advanced Foreign Language
AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science
AP/IB Math or Science
Programs & AdmissionsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School
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.
OfferingsFrom the 2021 High School Directory
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
Contact & Location
100 Essex Drive
Staten Island NY 10314
Buses: S44, S55, S56, S59, S61, S79-SBS, S89, S91, S94, X17, X17A, X17J, X31
This school shares the Jerome Parker Educational Campus with two other schools