Dear Prospective Prep Parent, Guardian, or Student,
Thank you for expressing interest in our high school. Over the past eight years, the success that Humanities Preparatory Academy has known has been the result of the contributions of our parents, students, teachers, and community leaders. Together we have developed a curriculum and school culture that cultivates the skills and creates the opportunities necessary to put our students on the road to success and, we hope, self-actualization. Certainly, success means high-quality individual achievement. At the same time, we think it is important to expand the definition of success so that it goes beyond what our students accomplish individually in college and career. We think success means that:
Prep began in 1993 as a half-day program within the Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities. Prep grew in scope and vision and in 1997 we became an autonomous school. Then and now we have a mix of innovative, experienced and new teachers who have worked hard planning our school and who are unswervingly dedicated to its vision. We have in place an active PTa, School Leadership Team and many forums for student participation in school governance. We have partnerships with diverse community and arts organizations throughout the city. Our efforts are supported by New Visions for Public Schools, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) and Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB).
- Our students learn well, discovering and acquiring the skills and interests to allow them to know to rewards of life-long learning;
- Our students know themselves better, having the tools to reflect upon how their actions affect themselves and others, and how to act in effective and caring ways;
- Our students learn how to think more clearly gaining knowledge and knowing how to apply that knowledge in a variety of situations;
- Our students communicate well, striving to work cooperatively and to resolve conflicts constructively, building the confidence to assume leadership role in all their pursuits and endeavors;
- Our students contribute to the building of a community of successful people, a community that fosters peaceful relations and cultural understanding, a community that actively promotes justice, democracy and equity.
Most recently, Prep was awarded CES National Mentor School status. As a Mentor School, Prep serves a guiding force in a nationwide network of educators involved in the construction and improvement of innovative and personalized schools. As part of this leadership role, we are proud and excited to tell you that Prep was awarded a school replication grant. In collaboration with CES and ELOB, we have opened our sister school, The James Baldwin School, based on our model of personalized, college preparatory education.
As you consider joining the Prep community, we encourage you to consider being a part of our sister school. In its first years, while being an extension of the Prep culture and curriculum, the new school will be even smaller than Prep and could offer you the chance to experience a highly personalized education, not to mention the unique occasion to participate in the development of a new CES and ELOB school in the first years of its growth. (For more information on ELOB and the CES new small schools project, please contact us or visit www.elob.org andwww.essentialschools.org).
More about the Humanities Prep curriculum, culture and community:
- We have a small enough population to insure that our teachers know our students and parents well. Every student works closely with an Advisor in order to devise a personalized educational plan and to discuss reaching their college and career goals. Our full time College Counselor, Social Worker and Parent Coordinator also play essential parts in helping students and their families meet their goals.
- We recruit students and teachers on the basis of an active concurrence with our philosophy and goals. We set very high standards, behaviorally and academically: respectful listening, dialogue and debate are expected of every interaction in the hallways and classrooms. College level skills and curricula are integrated into each course we teach and we stress the inter-connectedness of academics to real-life problem solving. In addition, an aggressive program of college collaborations gives our students the opportunity to receive college experience at such institutions as New York University and Hunter College while still in high school.
- Our pedagogical approach is firmly anchored in current research, that acknowledges the variety of intelligence present in us all. We respect students' experiences, learning needs and learning styles. We encourage students to explore, question, experiment and analyze. Learning is more exciting and relevant if critical thinking skills develop before and during, rather than after basic skills and facts have been acquired.
- In accord with this approach, we have developed a set of "performance-based assessments." This involves creating and defending projects or portfolios that demonstrate strong written and verbal presentation skills, in-depth creative and academic work, and fluency or mastery in discipline-specific competencies for skills and content. As part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, of which we are a founding member, this work has been endorsed by the New York State Education Department as an alternative to most Regents examinations. (For more information, you may contact us or visit www.performanceassessment.org).
We hope the above is helpful to you as an introduction to our school. Prep and the new school we are creating are works in progress, and, if you choose to joint our educational community, you would have the opportunity to help shape what we become. Please feel free to write or call us before you make your high school selection. We wish you well in this important endeavor.