2019 Blackboard Award Honoree: The Scholars’ Academy

Photo by Andrew Schwartz

The Scholars’ Academy
Principal Brian O’Connell
Grades 6-12
320 Beach 104th St, Rockaway Park, Queens

Award: Outstanding School

Describe your school’s core educational philosophy.

Scholars’ Academy is a teaching and learning organization that believes in supporting and accelerating students academically, as well as socially and emotionally. As an entirely cooperative learning school, high levels of student and staff engagement reside at the core of our school’s educational philosophy. During instruction, all scholars are actively engaged in teams called triads on learning tasks through a “Scale-Up” research-based model of cooperative learning used by many top universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). ​​

Tell us about a few of the school’s achievements or distinguishing programs:

Scholars’ Academy accelerates every middle school student, including students with disabilities, with over 12 percent of our student body and 1/3 of our classes organized as Integrated Co-teaching classes. Every middle school student takes high school algebra, living environment, and Spanish. Every high school student can take Advanced Placement Courses, and/or up to 20 college credits via our college partner, St. Francis College. Scholars’ Academy high school has a 100 percent graduation rate, with numerous students attending premier colleges such as Stanford, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and more. Scholars’ Academy is a two-time Respect for All Award School and very proud to receive the Blackboard School of Excellence Award for the second time since earning it in 2013 after rallying together to recover after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

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What’s new?

An accelerated diverse school that prides itself on excellent pedagogy and student performance, we are extremely excited this year to expand our supportive student advisory program and pilot a Renaissance Retreat program that matches teachers and students in non-grade specific interest-based learning activities of which they are passionate. In addition to working to make our school’s curriculum more interesting and culturally relevant, we are also innovating with a multi-layered effort to further enhance student peer bonds, social-emotional intelligence, and cultural understanding.

What do you love about your school?

Scholars’ Academy is a balanced ecosystem of teachers, students, parents, and administrators, and adult and Student Collaboration begets adult and student learning… Most importantly, we love that Scholars’ Academy is symbol of hope of how people from diverse backgrounds can come together to fully engage in the learning process within a supportive and synergistic culture that prepares them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to pursue success and happiness in the 21st Century.