Essex Street Academy

Erin Carstensen
350 Grand Street, NY

At Essex Street Academy, we prepare all of our students for success in college and in life by treating them as individuals with specific strengths and needs, and appealing to their intellectual curiosity in our courses. We also provide a safe learning environment where students’ needs are our number one priority. We offer core and elective courses that challenge students to develop their own ideas. With an emphasis on performance assessment and project-based learning, students spend their four years developing a portfolio that best reflects their intellectual growth.

Students learn the skill of making an argument supported by evidence by doing: designing and conducting experiments, developing a historical thesis, analyzing works of literature through a critical lens, developing mathematical solutions and proofs to problems encountered. We believe in developing students’ ability to apply sophisticated skills to solve complex problems. Our students are active, not passive, and will graduate from our school confident in their ability to tackle any problem they encounter.

We cap our class size at 20, enabling teachers to develop an individual relationship with each student. Small class sizes make a personalized approach to education possible. To be effective, teachers must know when a student is excited by an idea, when the student should be pushed in their thinking, and when a student needs help fully understanding a concept. Students are pushed to do their best work all of the time, and more importantly, on those exciting occasions when students become totally engaged with what they are studying, the teacher is there to make the most of the moment. This individualized approach keeps our students connected to school and sends them off to college excited to continue their pursuit of knowledge.

Being a teenager has never been easy. At ESA we understand the importance of feeling safe, cared for and part of a connected community. We believe everyone needs to feel comfortable and relaxed to have their minds fully available to the ideas they are encountering. Through participation in an advisory group of 10-12 students and one teacher, access to four social workers and a staff that prioritizes students above all else, the ESA staff is aware of what is going on in the lives of our students and provides the social support network they need to be happy and successful at school. These efforts are supported through a full partnership with the Greenwich Village Youth Council (GVYC) an organization that has been providing support to New York City teenagers for 34 years. Our after school program at ESA meets every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday until 5:30. Teachers and tutors offer academic support in every subject on each of these days. Teachers and volunteers run a variety of activities based on student interest. We are currently offering, Anime Club, Art Club, Baseball, Bowling, Basketball, Capoeira, Cheerleading Team, Chess, Debate, Italian Club, Mock Trial, School Newspaper, Softball, Student Government, Theater Club, Touch Football, Track, Volleyball and Yearbook. In 2008, members of the Capoeira program visited Brazil and members of the Anime Club toured Japan. We are always open to new activities that students are interested in and, because our faculty staffs the program, it is easy for students to let us know what they want.

Our emphasis on academic achievement coupled with the emotional support students need to be successful gives graduates from Essex Street Academy the best chance of being successful at the college of their choice.