INFO FOR INTERESTED 8TH GRADERS
EPIC High Schools are getting national attention for our student-centered approach, in which learning is active, relevant, community-driven, based on real-world skills, and attuned to the strengths, needs, interests, and cultures of all.
One of EPIC’s four high schools – EPIC North High School (Queens), EPIC South High School (Queens), South Bronx Community Charter High School (Bronx), and The Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice: An EPIC High School (Brooklyn) – might be the school for you if you…
Like small schools where students are known well
Enjoy challenging projects and group work
Can also work independently and at your own pace
Are a learner who wants to master new skills
Value community and believe classmates should support each other
Want to be a leader and have a voice in your school
What’s it like being a 9th grader at an EPIC High School?
Check out these two profiles of founding EPIC North High School students from their freshmen year.
JORDY ARIAS ‘18
Though small-framed and soft-spoken, Jordy finds himself, in many ways, a leader, at home and in school. He hopes to be the first in his family to graduate from college. And whether they like it or not, his two younger sisters, both in middle school, are subjected daily to EPIC North pitches. “I want them to go to school here,” he says. “I send them links to the school’s website, to articles about the school. My parents and I have seen the growth in my academics here. I can’t imagine myself in any other high school. I want the same for my sisters.”
Asked what distinguishes EPIC North, Jordy cites leadership without hesitation. It’s to his school’s leadership focus that he attributes much of his growth, though he also points to the project-based curriculum, which “lets us be as creative as we want to be,” and has put him ahead of friends at other schools, who, Jordy says sheepishly, “don’t know what I know. They’re not on my level. I notice it most in college-level vocabulary.” But leadership development remains, to Jordy, “the best thing my school offers. One day our teacher was late to class and we all came in and just started doing our work.” Jordy says that’s no accident. It’s a culture built by the school, one he says will help him “not just attend college but complete it. I want to exceed the standards.”
MONIR (“MO”) UDDIN ‘18
Rarely has Mo found fellow Muslims among his public school peers, which he says made him feel “different,” moreover, “closed off” to classmates and his own education. At EPIC North, things began to change, quickly. In less than a year, Mo says, “I’ve become so much more open. And it’s because of how open people have been to me. Teachers listen. They ask questions about my culture. I trust them.” For Mo, the key word in the transformation that has resulted is: value. “Teachers value what I say. I value myself. And I value my education. In middle school, I didn’t value my education. Valuing it now is what drives me to own my work and take responsibility.”
“Today,” Mo says, “I’m a kid. But my goal is to become a man. And that means learning how to treat others as well as how to treat myself, developing myself as a person, and setting and reaching my goals.” Mo has an older brother who dropped out of community college and only recently, with the help of a mentor, has resumed his studies. “I asked him why he struggled,” Mo reflects, “and he said his high school didn’t prepare him. When I show him the work I’m doing at EPIC North, he says ‘This is the right school. This is the school that everybody needs.’”
Innovate with curriculum and pedagogy – We seek to support students in taking ownership of their learning. All staff participate in designing and facilitating highly engaging, rigorous learning experiences with resources and scaffolds that allow students to lead their own learning.
Pioneer through start-up – Founding a new school is difficult and can be exhausting in many ways. Staff must be motivated by the challenge and opportunity to develop and design protocols, processes, tools and ultimately establish a culture for learning among young people and staff.
Work in community every day – All learning experiences are interdisciplinary and so staff must be motivated to co-facilitate and co-plan with their colleagues.
Practice social justice – Design, facilitate and participate in experiences and conversations that relate to race, gender, class and sexual identity in ways that empower students and foster community.
Be open to new roles – All staff co-lead group mentoring sessions every week with a small group of students that they support through all four years of high school.
Fail forward – We try new approaches to achieve breakthrough results. All staff contribute to, and learn from, these experiences.
Lead through uncertainty – In order to achieve dramatically better outcomes for young people, sometimes there is no precedent for the strategies we employ. We need staff that can demonstrate leadership in uncharted waters.