3 Bronx charters named National Blue Ribbon Schools

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Graduates from the class of 2022 celebrate in June at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math & Science II in the Bronx. The school was among nearly 300 winners of the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools.
Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Education

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Only three New York City public schools made this year’s list of National Blue Ribbon Schools, and all were charter schools located in the Bronx, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s picks released Friday.

The  were among 297 schools across the country winning the honor. All three were recognized for their overall academic performance, and are low-income schools serving a majority of Black and Latino students. (Schools also make the list for showing progress in closing achievement gaps among different groups of students.)

State education officials can submit up to 19 schools for the honor, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Education. Yet, New York state saw 20 winners this year, none of which were schools run by the city’s education department.

State education officials could not immediately provide the list of schools they submitted for consideration.

It was the first time since 2005 that no schools run by the city’s education department were on the list. Last year, of the seven Blue Ribbon public schools from New York City, six were district schools and one was a charter (Icahn Charter School 3).

Though the award comes with no financial boost, it comes with bragging rights.

“Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students’ lives.”

Icahn Charter School 2 won praise for its focus on project-based learning, according to the federal education department’s website. All of its students, from kindergarten to eighth grade, participate in three in-depth projects each year, culminating in an event in the school’s gym, similar to a science fair, where students present their work. The school provides continued professional development for teachers on the model, and gets families on board starting in September, holding open houses and workshops to explain what project-based learning is all about and how families can support their children throughout the year.

South Bronx Classical III is following one of its sister schools in its small network that was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2020. The network’s curriculum includes Latin, debate, art, music, and fitness, and its schools use targeted small group work to help struggling students. Teachers receive weekly support, according to the federal education department website, and students have “frequent opportunities to reflect on behavior choices, debate about ways to handle situations, and build socio-emotional skills to handle adversity.”

New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science II prides itself on getting to know each of its students through its school support teams for each grade, consisting of an assistant principal, school counselor, social worker, dean, and attendance coordinator. The teams meet weekly to discuss academic or social-emotional concerns, as well as figuring out next steps in contacting students or their families to check on overall wellness, the U.S. education website said. On top of that, the teams meet monthly with teachers to discuss progress and concerns.

“From the moment our students walk through the door, they are welcomed by numerous staff members, seen as individuals, and supported by dedicated grade level teams that promote their personal, academic, and socio-emotional growth,” the high school’s principal Sandy Manessis said in a statement.

Amy Zimmer is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat New York. Contact Amy at [email protected].

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.