On the first day of school, I had the opportunity to tour and meet the students and faculty of both the Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens and Queens Gateway to Health Services High School.
The students’ enthusiasm was palpable, as it should be. Both schools have exciting new beginnings this year. Queens Gateway to Health Services has moved to a new building with gleaming halls and science equipment that even smells new. The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens celebrated finally having its own building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony after moving into the former Gateway HS building in Briarwood.
These new facilities are great additions to our Queens community. But the students’ excitement ran deeper than just the thrill of new buildings. These students were energized to be learning again.
Both of these schools have a mission that goes beyond preparing students for standardized testing — the faculty and educators are devoted to inspiring their students to take ownership over their futures while teaching the practical tools and skills they need to grow into successful leaders and contributors in their community. The educators’ commitment is reflected in the students’ eagerness to be back in the classroom.
Modeled off the success of private, single-gender schools, the Young Women’s Leadership School is part of a network of schools that offers the opportunity for girls from all backgrounds to thrive in an environment that is focused on helping them develop without the distractions common in co-ed schools. Right from the start, each entering student knows a lot is expected of them — they are all considered “college bound” and work closely with teachers and counselors for years to identify and meet their goals.
The Queens Gateway to Health Services school has partnered with Queens Hospital Center to develop a curriculum that offers students specialized courses in medical fields. In class, students partner with the hospital’s medical staff to learn essential skills in health care. As the school’s name suggests, these classes are entry points for young people to understand and become comfortable with the sort of skills and responsibilities necessary not only in the health profession, but also in adult life. If students choose to go into accounting, law or any other field, they will already understand the practical reasoning that serves as a foundation in any occupation.
By pushing students to achieve more than they may elsewhere and giving them unique educational opportunities, students gain a greater sense of their own potential. They can better visualize opportunities and possibilities for their success. Faith in their ability, a hunger to go farther and a strong sense of self are the beliefs our children need to be successful in in our swiftly changing world.