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Renewal in Progress: Mayor de Blasio Tours Improving 'Renewal School' in Richmond Hill

March 19, 2015

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At Richmond Hill High School, more students on track to graduate this year compared to last

“Are You Green?” innovation monitors every student’s progress toward graduation, holds teachers and families accountable for keeping them on track

Renewal school benefiting from expanded after-school programs, Saturday tutoring, new Leadership Coach

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio met with students and faculty at Richmond Hill High School, one of 94 Renewal Schools where the administration is focusing resources and leadership to raise achievement. 

Richmond Hill High School had endured years of instability and declining performance, but today, key early indicators show the school is changing direction. As a Renewal School, it’s receiving leadership coaching, expanded after-school programs, weekend tutoring, and new tools to monitor and improve student performance. As a result, more students are on track to graduate and the campus has become dramatically safer – with fewer incidents of violence and a significant drop in suspensions.

“We are investing in tools that we know help students catch up and succeed – more learning time, extra tutoring, coaches to help teachers improve instruction. We’re already seeing signs of progress on the ground at places like Richmond Hill High School,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We have a plan to fix long-struggling schools, and we’ll hold ourselves and these schools accountable for results. This is why we’re calling on our colleagues in Albany to work with us to renew Mayoral Control and provide the level of support needed to drive these gains further.”

“We have concrete plans to invest and drive improvement in each of our 94 Renewal schools, including Richmond Hill High School,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I am proud to say that – thanks to the efforts of our educators and our renewal school team, led by Aimee Horowitz – we are already seeing progress. But this is just the beginning, and I look forward to continuing to implement our renewal plans to ensure students are getting the high-quality education they deserve.”

“This is an urgent mission, and we’re taking it on with serious leadership and support. Our ‘War Room’ is moving through the boroughs, bringing together superintendents and fanning out to schools to diagnose and solve problems. We’re making progress, student by student and school by school,” said Aimee Horowitz, Executive Superintendent for Renewal Schools.

“There have been challenges, but with the support and resources we’re receiving through the Renewal program, Richmond Hill is getting back on the right track,” said Neil Ganesh, principal of Richmond Hill High School. “We’re extending learning time, motivating students through the ‘Are You Green?’ initiative, engaging parents and families, and – because the City has believed and invested in us – we have saved our arts program. There’s so much more hard work ahead of us, but the Richmond Hill Lions are roaring again.”  

Mayor de Blasio announced the $150 million Renewal Schools program in November, dedicating experienced new leadership and new resources to 94 schools that have struggled for years. The effort is overseen by the new Executive Superintendent for Renewal Schools, Aimee Horowitz, a leader with a track record of turning around troubled schools and raising student achievement

In the past three months, initial changes have gotten underway at Renewal Schools, including the addition of extra instructional time in 54 schools, academic intervention teams deployed to overhaul curriculum and course offerings, and groups of experienced principals and assistant principals sent to high-needs schools to strengthen leadership and help change direction. This spring, every Renewal School will begin its transformation into a Community School to help students overcome barriers to learning with counseling, mental health services and family supports.

At Richmond Hill High School, the Renewal School program has meant:

  • Leadership Coaching: A retired principal who turned around another troubled school has joined the leadership team to help innovate.


  • More Learning Time: Expanded afterschool programs and Saturday sessions help struggling students catch up. Enrollment in afterschool has nearly tripled from 143 to 413 students.
  • More Accountability: The “Are You Green?” initiative tracks every student’s progress towards graduation—including credits, attendance and exams passed. Whenever a student falls behind, it triggers a collaborative response with teachers and parents to help them catch up and get back on track.


  • Enrichment: An arts program slated to be cut was preserved with new funding.
  • Focus on Writing: Added more training in writing for 9th grade teachers to solidify this critical skill early in high school.


  • All-Hands-On-Deck Approach to Student Achievement: Teacher teams meet daily to combine efforts on individual students who may struggle across multiple subjects and areas.

Signs of Improvement at Richmond Hill:

  • More students on track to graduate: 67 percent of students across all grade levels are now on track to graduate, up from just 60 percent at this point last year. In the 11th grade alone, 83 more students are on track to earn the necessary credits to graduate on time.


  • Safer on campus: Serious or violent incidents are down 27 percent compared to last year (80 versus 110 last year). Suspensions are down 72 percent compared to last year (126 versus 444 last year).

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