Listen to a podcast about our learning model here.

Our Learning Model, The "How" 

Utilizing New York City and its rich cultural resources as our learning lab, WESS will immerse students in authentic learning experiences that require investigation, discovery, and innovative thinking.  We believe that children should understand and interact with the city and world beyond school walls.  Through carefully crafted lessons designed to spark their imaginations, students will develop the capacity to become reflective questioners and critical thinkers who consider multiple perspectives while arriving at their own interpretation. Every classroom will present complex material that students will encounter with a mix of uncertainty and struggle, but such struggles promote patience and perseverance, both of which inevitably lead to growth.


Our learning expeditions allow us to teach all subjects through the lens of a broader topic so students learn in the context of the community and the world in which they live. Through learning expeditions, students engage in fieldwork, community service and work with experts, to complete in-depth studies across subject areas. Expeditions culminate with rigorous projects and exhibitions that demonstrate mastery of standards. During 8th grade and their senior year of high school, students will design their own personal expedition to further an interest or passion.


More on Inquiry...

What does this look like? Instead of studying habitats in general, students study their own local habitats deeply, learn about endangered species or plants within their local habitats, investigate the elements of habitats by creating local field guides, and then expand their study to other habitats. Students studying industrial progress and capitalism will look to events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and will examine the relationship between the rich and poor, employer and employee, and lawmakers and reformers to develop a deep understanding of social reform. They might be asked to consider who is telling the truth about what really happened. Instead of merely studying slope, students will use what they understand about slope to determine if the staircases in our neighborhoods are safe for the very young and the elderly. Through an interdisciplinary study of the construction of our city’s skyscrapers, students will explore the laws of nature, cost, safety, reliability, environmental impact, manufacturability, and predicting the effects of designs using mathematics.