Inwood Academy for Leadership empowers students in Inwood and Washington Heights to become agents for change through community-focused leadership, character development and college preparedness.
Our population is drawn directly from the Washington Heights and Inwood community, where an average of 27% of children live below the federal poverty threshold. We advocated successfully in offering preference to English Language Learners (ELL) within our lottery, establishing an average of 41% “high needs” students (those having ELL status, an IEP, or both). We began our first school year in 2010 as a small group of eager teachers charged with the task of meeting the specific learning needs of our students.
Many young people never get the opportunity to participate in education as a transformative experience. The “path to college” represents a vision of success that many deserving students fail to achieve due to the difficult living conditions and familial problems associated with poverty. In our community 13% of adults are unemployed and only 19% of adults 25 and older have a high school diploma or equivalent. Living below the poverty line means that potential does not guarantee success.
Although the “college prep” model may work for some of our students, we work with a diverse population of learners. Many of our students are drawn to a more “hands-on” style of learning, where they can acquire the skills needed to promote career readiness. As the economy continues to fluctuate, ALL our students need to be prepared for a job market that is highly competitive and where a college degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee employment.
Research suggests that other schools across the country are beginning to recognize the need for Career and Technology Education (CTE) for high school students. The manufacturing industry is growing at an exponential rate all across the country, contributing to an increasingly large market for skilled job opportunities. Learning by “doing” has become a major force propelling the rise of business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Studies done on the small subset of high school students that have access to vocational training indicate that a growing number of graduates move on to well-paid, highly skilled postsecondary careers.
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