University Prep Charter High School
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Skilled teachers, good Regents results, small classes
No music and art until 12th grade, late lunch
Many charter schools operate under the premise that teachers' unions are a barrier to good education. But University Prep Charter High School is out to prove that well-paid, unionized teachers are fundamental to students' success.
University Prep, which has a collaboration with the United Federation of Teachers, was named a "National Blue Ribbon School" by the U.S. Department of Education in 2016, an award given to high performing schools. Nearly every student graduates on time, and most go to college (although some need to take remedial courses when they get there.) The school offers a full complement of Advanced Placement classes, and many students take College Now classes at CUNY campuses while they are still in high school.
Andrea D'Amato, principal since 2015, has created an atmosphere of trust and respect, according to school surveys. Although some students are concerned about safety in the neighborhood outside the school, they feel safe in the school building, which is shared with the Hostos-Lincoln Academy of Science. Students wear a uniform of navy blue collared shirts, khaki pants, and solid black or brown shoes.
Founded in 2008 as Green Dot New York Charter School, the name was changed to University Prep Charter High School in 2013 after ending its relationship with Green Dot Public Schools, a network of schools in California. Teachers have a special contract that pays them more than other members of the United Federation of Teachers in exchange for a longer school day and year.
All incoming 9th graders participate in a summer bridge program for 4 to 6 weeks. It gives them a preview of math, English and health courses; introduces them to their classmates; and helps them get used to the school's environment.
School hours are 8:30 am to 4 pm. Classes meet every other day for 90 minutes which helps students prepare for a college schedule and allows teachers to "dive deeper" into the subject matter, according to a school brochure. Classes blend "hands-on learning" and with "interactive lectures."
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers SETSS (pull-out) classes, and sometimes offers ICT (team teaching) classes.
ADMISSIONS: Lottery, with District 7 preference. (Clara Hemphill, school brochure and web reports, March 2017)