VISION and MISSION STATEMENT
To touch individual lives by re-engaging students who have become disenfranchised with, and have dropped out of, traditional high schools, and enables them to obtain a high school diploma, pursue higher education and become productive members of society.
To provide students aged 16 – 21 with the personalized educational experiences they need to build successful futures by overcoming the economic, social and personal challenges that caused them to fail in other high schools.
Wildcatter : "One who drills wells in the hope of finding oil in territory not known to be an oil field.” In other words, it is one who discovers rich resources others have missed.
The John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy Charter School is an alternative high school for students who have literally or figuratively “dropped out” of traditional public schools. When students seek admission to Wildcat, they are requesting a “second chance” to achieve academic success and earn a high school diploma. Co-found in 1993 by Amalia Betanzos and Ronald Tabano as the Wildcat Academy, an alternative public school (later converting to charter status in 2000), Wildcat’s work with its unique student body is grounded in the three related themes of alternative education: (1) a strong academic focus, (2) clear expectations concerning behavior, and (3) alternative learning options.
Since its founding, Wildcat has played a critical role in the development and implementation of programs addressing the needs of disenfranchised students. Implicit in the School’s mission is the goal to provide youth struggling with a myriad of issues faced by urban teens today, with the educational and vocational skills necessary to become productive members of society. As a last opportunity school, students who have been failed by their previous school settings and whose past behaviors and life experiences have prevented them from success, are given the opportunity to overcome their issues and move forward with their lives in a community that supports high academic rigor.
Today, 500 students are attending one of the two Wildcat campuses. The Bronx campus, located in the Hunt’s Point section of the Bronx, provides classes and services to students with less the 21 credits (freshman and sophomores). At the Manhattan campus, located in the Wall Street area, students with 21+ credits attend (juniors and seniors). All Regent’s exams are administered once the student graduates to the Manhattan campus. Wildcat also allows students to continue to audit classes until students successfully pass all Regent’s exams regardless of credits accumulated.
Wildcat's academic program demonstrates the School's commitment to educational quality and is consistent with New York State Education Law and Regulations as well as New York State learning standards and performance indicators. Like all students in New York State, Wildcat students are required to take core academic courses, pass Regents examinations and fulfill sufficient "seat time" requirements in order to earn credits. The Wildcat staff expects each student to successfully complete all graduation requirements and receive a high school diploma. All Wildcat students understand this expectation and know that the school's resources should assist them in successfully completing their high school educations.
As we move into the future, we continue to expect students at Wildcat to attain the same level of education as students at more traditional schools. Goals for the coming years include the development of an intensive outreach and referral program; strengthening our Internship Program to meet the needs of the 21st Century; developing a comprehensive after school program to provide academic, social, and physical support; and developing innovative ways of supporting teachers as they continue to teach creatively to further student proficiency. At graduation, almost 60% of the students chose to attend college, 10% chose the military; and 30% chose to work. Wildcat students are held to the same standards as students at other schools; however, the success students reach at adulthood have simply been through roads less well traveled than traditional students.
ACADEMIC FOCUS AND BEHAVIORIAL SUPPORT
Wildcat effectively serves the educational needs of students 16 to 21 years of age in grades 9 through 12 who are at risk of personal failure due to poor attendance, below-average academic achievement, disruptive behavior and criminal activity. Given the troubled histories of many of its students, Wildcat dedicates much effort to designing and implementing a program that confronts behavior that is age appropriate, philosophically progressive, and effective. As a result, various disciplinary issues that undermine other secondary schools are absent at Wildcat. Among the many factors contributing to this success, the following are particularly significant:
- Helping students internalize the school's goals and expectations;
- Creating cohesive learning teams;
- Supporting a “school to work” internship program;
- Granting students freedom to accelerate their own educational progress;
- Instilling the belief that a student's personal history prior to admission to JVL Wildcat should not serve as an impediment to academic success.
ALTERNATIVE LEARNING OPTIONS
JVL Wildcat's educational program sharply differentiates it from other charter schools; in fact, it differs sharply from traditional high schools. Its educational program is ungraded and characterized by heterogeneous grouping, interdisciplinary teaching strategies, cooperative learning, thematic projects and units, performance-based instruction, and continual assessment of students' progress. This non-traditional instructional approach is tailored to the particular needs of its students and engages them more actively in the learning process.
A very unique aspect of the Wildcat model is the real-world internship experiences that it has been offering its students since its founding. Students attend school every other week: during the alternate week they participate in 20-hour internships in fields including construction, business, healthcare, communications, office support, theater, childcare, community development and education. This internship is very much at the core of the School’s program. The internship provides its students with the opportunity to be involved in meaningful work, be trained, supervised and evaluated. These experiences will assist them in making informed career choices. Finally, it creates a real life link between the academic focus of their high school careers to the world of work—giving them further incentive to stay in school, stay away from delinquent activity and graduate and pursue higher education.
Wildcat's proven model of combining real life work applications, through job internships, as an integral partner with student classroom work, has prevented recidivism of this population by providing students with purpose, self-esteem, skills and the real life connection between school work and the world of work. In addition, Wildcat provides direct services to students in each of these programs through the important placement of some of the youth participants in its School setting particularly through the Culinary Arts Program located in the Bronx.