Last week I had the opportunity to spend two days working with the social studies department of New York City’s High School for International Business and Finance. The school is housed in the historic George Washington High School in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan. GWHS was once a premier high school in NYC, but it spent most of the 1990’s on the NYS SURR list of failing schools. Since then, it has undergone a positive transformation.
The High School for International Business and Finance is one of four small, themed academies that has resided in the GWHS building since 2000. It is an example of what happens when administrators and teachers share a vision of instruction based on high expectations, responsibility and personalized approach for each student. Located in the center of the city’s largest Dominican neighborhood, 750-student school and it’s partner academies are a focus community pride and accomplishment. Student achievement is on the rise and the High School for International Business and Finance now has a large surplus of applicants for its freshman class.
Our two-day workshop focused on rigor and relevance in social studies and our team of teachers explored a variety of strategies that enable the student to “do the work of the historian.” We modeled that approach throughout the sessions – as one teacher noted, “I liked that while we were given examples, you let create our own learning.”
For more on schools with a “shared a vision of instruction” visit my website Small Learning Communities that Work.