Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick for Special Ed

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)

School Stats


How many students graduate in 4 years?
How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
Average daily attendance
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2019-20 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
644 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

How many students were suspended?
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
Years of principal experience at this school
7 Citywide Average
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
157 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
Are teachers effective?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2019-20 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Advanced Courses

Which students have access to advanced courses at this school? Learn more


Not offered in 2019-20

Computer Science




Advanced Foreign Language


AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science


AP/IB Math or Science



From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2019-20 school year provided by the New York State Education Department, brought to you by

College Readiness

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
From the 2019-20 School Quality Guide
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2020-21 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought you by
How many graduates of this school received Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding to attend a NYS college?
How many of those TAP recipients made it through college? Learn more
From unpublished, anonymized student-level data for the class of 2011-12 provided by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) in coordination with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), brought to you by
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.


From the 2021 High School Directory

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


100 Essex Drive
Staten Island NY 10314

Trains: N/A

Buses: S44, S55, S56, S59, S61, S79-SBS, S89, S91, S94, X17, X17A, X17J, X31


Principal: Margaret Tang

Parent Coordinator: Diana Leon Gonzalez


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the Jerome Parker Educational Campus with two other schools

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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