March 3, 2008

NYC Outward Bound to Open Two New Expeditionary Learning(TM) Schools on Staten Island

New York City Outward Bound today announced that it will be opening two new small schools on Staten Island in September, 2008. The schools--the first Expeditionary Learning schools to open in the borough as part of the City's Small Schools Initiative--will be located on a new four-school campus at 100 Essex Drive. They are:

The Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School, grades 6-8. Proposed Principal: Jessica Jenkins-Milona.

The McCown Expeditionary Learning School, grades 9-12. Proposed Principal: Donna J. Tait.

"Since 2004, when we began collaborating with the Department of Education in the creation of new small schools, NYC Outward Bound's objective has been to make our Expeditionary Learning school model available to students throughout the City," said Richard Stopol, the organization's president. "Establishing these schools on Staten Island furthers our goal of being a truly citywide program."

Stopol noted that the Staten Island schools will be the first to benefit from the second Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to be awarded to New York City Outward Bound since 2003. Approximately half of the multi-year, $3.12 million grant will be applied to support the Staten Island schools. With the addition of the Marsh Avenue and McCown Expeditionary Learning Schools, NYC Outward Bound will be operating nine schools in four of the City's five boroughs.

Expeditionary Learning is a national school creation /transformation model which emphasizes real world learning, engaging instruction, rigorous curricula, and character development. Students learn their core academic subjects through in-depth projects that often use the City itself as a classroom. NYC Outward Bound provides extensive professional development to each of its network schools around implementation of the Expeditionary Learning model, and is involved in all aspects of the school, including school design, governance and evaluation, staff recruitment, teacher professional development, and student support.

"Locating both a middle and high school devoted to Expeditionary Learning on the same campus offers a very dynamic and exciting opportunity for us," Stopol said. "Students will benefit from a continuum of learning experiences tailored to their grade level, beginning when they come on to the campus as 6th graders and extending through high school graduation. Moreover, there will be opportunities for sharing resources across the two schools and delivering collaborative programming that will benefit the students and families in both schools."

The Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School is committed to understanding students' diverse learning needs and styles and to the belief that all students can learn when instruction is responsive to the variety of "intelligences" in the classroom. Its goal is to give its students the skills they will need to be successful in high school and have a meaningful and productive future in four-year colleges and beyond.

Its proposed principal Jessica Jenkins-Milona, an expert in differentiated instruction, is currently serving as Network Support Specialist for Instruction and Special Education for the Integrated Curriculum and Instruction Learning Support Organization. She has experience in school administration, special education, teaching and school counseling in the New York City public school system. Jenkins-Milona received her master's degree in School Counseling and certification in School Administration from the College of New Rochelle. She holds a bachelor's degree in Sociology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and received her certification in Special Education from Hunter College and the College of St. Rose.

The McCown Expeditionary Learning School is named after Gaynor McCown, a renowned educator and former member of the NYC Outward Bound board of directors who believed that public schools should be equitable places where teachers provide rigorous and engaging instruction to all children. After receiving her masters in education from Harvard, Gaynor taught in New York City's public high schools and then became a White House Fellow, working in the Clinton administration. Before her untimely death in 2005, she was serving as Executive Director for the Teaching Commission, established by Lou Gerstner in 2003 to develop a set of recommendations on how best to recruit and retain talented educators in America's public schools.

The McCown School seeks to honor her pioneering spirit in education by creating a collaboration among teachers, administrators and parents to prepare students with the skills and orientation necessary for the kind of responsible citizenship that will allow them to leave their mark on the world.

Its proposed principal, Donna Tait, is currently Assistant Principal at the Math Science and Technology Institute Middle School in Brooklyn. A longtime educator in New York City, she has taught children with a range of needs, and has served as assistant principal at three Brooklyn schools. She holds a master's in Education Administration from City College and a master's in Education with a specialty in Reading from Brooklyn College. She received her bachelor's degree in English Education from Hunter College.

Now beginning its third decade in the City, New York City Outward Bound is an independent non-profit organization that brings the educational philosophy and expertise of Outward Bound to New York City's public schools. Since 1987, NYC Outward Bound has conducted in-school and after-school programs for students in literacy, leadership and character development for more than 45,000 students at over 250 schools, and has trained faculty, administration, parents and staff in classroom management, literacy instruction, curriculum planning and diversity; and organizational development.

In 2003, while continuing to provide these programs, the organization undertook its most ambitious venture-- to build and operate a network of small schools, in partnership with the City's Department of Education, that incorporate the Expeditionary Learning curriculum inspired by Outward Bound founder, Kurt Hahn. New York City Outward Bound schools opened to date are: Bronx Expeditionary Learning High School, Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders, The James Baldwin Academy, Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School, The Validus Preparatory Academy and Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School. In addition, an existing school--Humanities Preparatory Academy--joined NYC Outward Bound's network of small Expeditionary Learning Schools in September, 2005. There are currently over 160 Expeditionary Learning schools in the country. For further information, visit our website,