About HPA » What We Do

What We Do

All photography provided by Staff & Students of Humanities Prep
Humanities Prep was founded in 1996 as one of the first small progressive public schools in Manhattan. Prep was designed as an alternative to larger schools that emphasized lecturing, memorization, repetition and testing. One of the original members of the New York State Performance Standards Consortium, we have a waiver that recognizes our Performance-Based Assessment Tasks as an alternative to High Stakes NYS Regents Examinations. Rather than take multiple tests as a graduation requirement, our students design an original research project with a writing component in all academic subject areas. Their work is then evaluated and scored by a panel of experts.
Despite our title, we offer a full liberal arts curriculum including a rigorous sequence of math and science. Our classes emphasize personalization, collaboration, revision, critique and student voice. Humanities Prep is the only school in the city with a hybrid model of enrollment. Half of our students come us as 9th graders, and the other half are transfer students who began their high school careers somewhere else. We strongly believe that this diverse integrated model helps all students succeed.
Our school has inspired many others to replicate it, and serves as an informal leadership pipeline for teachers. Both Harvest Collegiate and The James Baldwin School were founded by Humanities Prep teachers. Over the years, more than a dozen Humanities Prep teachers have taken educational leadership positions within the NYC Department of Education and beyond.

It is the mission of the Humanities Preparatory Academy to provide a philosophical and practical education for all students, an education that features creativity and inquiry, encourages habitual reading and productivity, as well as self-reflection and original thought. We agree with Socrates that the “unexamined life is not worth living,” and it is our desire to prepare students to live thoughtful and meaningful lives. We are committed to inspiring the love of learning in our students. This mission can best be accomplished in a school that is a democratic community. As a democratic community, we strive to exemplify the values of democracy: mutual respect, cooperation, empathy, the love of humankind, justice for all, and service to the world.
Humanities Prep, a small progressive school in the Bayard Rustin Educational Campus in Chelsea, provides an academically challenging and welcoming alternative to traditional high schools.
— Inside Schools Review