The James Baldwin School: A School for Expeditionary Learning

T. Elijah Hawkes
351 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
(212) 627-2812

The James Baldwin School
School Profile 2009-2010

In 2004, educators at a veteran New York City high school, Humanities Preparatory Academy (HPA), were awarded a grant to replicate the essential aspects of the successful small school: college preparation; personalized teaching and learning; a democratic community empowering students to take responsibility for their education. One year later, five teachers from HPA and seven students and their families emigrated to become the founding teachers and students of The James Baldwin School. We are a school for students from all walks of life. We are dedicated to serving a heterogeneous group of students, representative of the City’s diversity – racially, economically, academically. Our mission is to give them a philosophical and practical education that will enable them success in college and later life.

We are now in our 5th year and have had 3 graduating classes. We believe every graduate of our school should have the choice of attending a four year college, and we agree with James Baldwin: “It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person.”

From Our Mission Statement
“It is our mission… at the James Baldwin School, to provide a haven for students who have previously experienced school as unresponsive to their needs as individuals. We wish for all students to find their voice and to speak knowledgeably and thoughtfully on issues that concern their school, their world. We aid students in this endeavor by personalizing our learning situations, by democratizing and humanizing the school environment.…”

Core Values
Commitment to Peace
Commitment to Justice
Commitment to Democracy
Respect for Humanity
Respect for Diversity
Respect for the Truth
Respect for the Intellect

Partners & Press
The New York City Outward Bound Center

The Coalition of Essential Schools

Expeditionary Learning Schools

The New York Performance Standards Consortium

Empowerment Schools, NYC Dept. of Education

We are very proud of the reviews we have received from:
• The New York Times
• NYC’s Best Public High Schools 3rd ed. (by Clara Hemphill)

We invite you to view these and learn more about us on our website:

For the first 4 years, our population included Transfer Students who joined us through an application and interview process and 9th graders who came to us through the limited unscreened enrollment lottery. Beginning in School Year 2009-2010, we will be a full-transfer school, accepting students only through the transfer process.

Curriculum & Grading
Learning happens in response to provocative essential questions, and students strive to meet “learning targets” to demonstrate understanding and skills. What we learn about matters – to us and others. Certain classes, Urban Expeditions, culminate in the presentation of projects to communities and audiences that care about the subject and the work.
Graduation requirements include the completion of a Performance Based Assessment Task (PBAT) in Math, Science, Social Studies and English, which requires students to create and defend a college level paper before a panel of teachers and experts. For more info, go to our website or

Classes are heterogeneously grouped by age and ability. While we do not offer AP classes, college courses at Baruch College and Eugene Lang College (New School University) are available to students in their Junior and Senior years.

Our grading scale: A=100-90, B=89-80, C=79-70, D=69-65, F=64-0.

Student Demographics 08/09

Total students: 245
Grades served: 9 – 12

Residence: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens.

18% Special Education (including SETTS)

6% English Language Learners

61.0% free lunch eligible 2006/2007
45.0% free lunch eligible 2007/2008
43.6% free lunch eligible 2008/2009

47% Hispanic
38% Black
9% White
3% Asian/Pacific Islander Colleges Acceptances

We have had 3 graduating classes so far. We support students and families through the college application process. Of those graduates who have applied to college, 97% have been accepted; 70% to four year colleges.

Trinity College; NYU; Marymount Manhattan College; University of New Haven; Sterling College; Virginia Union University; University of Bridgeport; Loyola Marymount University; Arizona State University; St. Joseph's College; Iona College; Barry University; College of New Rochelle; The New School: Eugene Lang College; Saint Peter’s College; College of Saint Rose; Ithaca College; College of Mt. St. Vincent; Florida Gulf Coast University; University of Tampa; Clark-Atlanta University; Manhattan College; Mercy College; University of Hartford; Spellman College; Utica College; LIU – CW Post; University of Las Vegas; Randolph Macon; Goucher College; Bowling Green State University; Misericordia University; West Virginia University; Guilford College; Five Towns College; SUNY Fredonia; SUNY New Paltz; SUNY Cortland; SUNY IT; SUNY Delhi, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Sullivan County Community College; SUNY Tompkins County Community College; SUNY Onondaga Community College; Hunter College; John Jay College of Criminal Justice; City College; Brooklyn College; Medgar Evers College; College of Staten Island; Lehman College; York College; NYC College of Technology; Borough of Manhattan Community College; Kingsborough Community College; LaGuardia Community College; Bronx Community College; Hostos Community College; Queensborough Community College; Herkimer County Community College.

Our Partners & Supporters
New York City Outward Bound &
Expeditionary Learning: These important partners provide training for teachers, and character- and culture-building experiences for students, including an overnight wilderness trip. &
Coalition of Essential Schools: CES is an important organization for school reform nationwide. Among its 10 Common Principles, CES asserts that teachers must work with a small number of students to allow for personalized attention to academic and emotional needs.

Youth Empowerment Services: As part of a new 5-year 21st Century Grant, this partnership will bring after school arts and elective courses to our school and guidance support for students and families of all backgrounds.

College Now Program at Baruch College; Eugene Lang College; Educational Talent Search: These important partnerships support our college program with on-site college advisement, and college courses for juniors and seniors.;;

The Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer & City Council Speaker Christine Quinn: Support from MBP Stringer and Council Speaker Quinn’s office has allowed us to acquire computers, laptops, smart boards and other important resources in technology.

Integral Yoga: Our valuable partnership with Integral Yoga has been an important aspect of our Physical Education program for several years, providing students with an opportunity to strengthen their bodies and minds, to find inner strength, peace and confidence.

New York Performance Standards Consortium: Schools in this network implement a performance-based assessment system with documented success in preparing graduates for the challenges of college.

Hudson Guild: One of the longest-established community organizations in this part of the City, we are fortunate to work with Hudson Guild to bring social work, counseling and other resources to our students and families, both during and after the school day.

The Green Foundation: $30,000 was awarded to support guidance staff in college preparation program, including overnight college visits, on-site presentations from admissions officers, counseling for individual students and families.

NY Cares Kaplan SAT Tutoring: This partnership brings intelligent and caring volunteers to the school who offer free Kaplan SAT preparation to our students throughout the year. Contact Sharon for more info.