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Three NYC Outward Bound High Schools — Gaynor McCown in Staten Island, MELS in Forest Hills, Queens, and WHEELS in Washington Heights — were recognized as part of NYC Department of Education’s Spotlight on Great High School Options. The list of 21 schools was released on Thursday.

According to the NYC Department of Education, these schools “represent just a slice of the diverse, high-quality educational settings available to New York City’s students.”

Maggie Bailey Tang, Principal of Gaynor McCown, Hillary Mills, Co-Principal of MELS, and Tom Rochowicz, Principal of WHEELS, joined Chancellor Banks for the announcement on Thursday at DOE headquarters.

“The principals standing with me lead some of the most unique high schools in the city, and I want more New Yorkers to know who they are and the great work that they’re doing,” said Chancellor Banks.

Gaynor McCown is a college preparatory high school partnering with NYC Outward Bound Schools and EL Education to offer challenging, student-centered curriculum that incorporates fieldwork and concludes with projects presented to audiences. As a small school on Staten Island, Gaynor McCown provides highly personalized support to students, who are expected to complete 100 hours of community service by graduation, and exemplify integrity, citizenship, perseverance, respect and responsibility. Students are encouraged to earn college credits through two dual-enrollment programs in partnership with St. Francis College and the College of Staten Island.

MELS, located in Queens, is an open enrollment 6-12 school that serves one of the most diverse student populations in all of New York State. As an EL Education and NYC Outward Bound School, MELS focuses on real-world, project-based curricula along with an emphasis on culture and character. This results in a student-centered environment where students’ success is paramount. Since its first graduating class in 2016, MELS has had an average graduation rate of 98%, with graduation rates for students with disabilities consistently outperforming the state average by over thirty percentage points. MELS also boasts a post-secondary enrollment rate persistently over 80%. MELS’s graduation and post-secondary outcomes for boys and young men of color were also recognized as exemplary by the My Brothers Keeper Initiative for New York State.

WHEELS is a NYC Outward Bound School serving students in PreK-12, most of whom describe WHEELS as a family. As part of NYC Outward Bound Schools, we implement the EL Education model, which includes how we do school culture, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and leadership, as well as our English literacy curriculum for K-8. The fundamental idea of EL is a focus on character and high-quality work along with mastery of knowledge and skills, and these three “dimensions” of student achievement permeate throughout our school. Crew is a foundational practice that supports teacher-student and student-student relationships, creating the sense of membership and belonging that is a crucial prerequisite to academic growth. Our robust college and career supports, in partnership with Futures Ignite, beginning in 9th Grade and culminating senior year with a 1:50 counselor:student ratio, ensures our students have strong postsecondary plans and alumni counselors to continue the support beyond graduation.

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