Creating a Positive School Culture & Driving Student Achievement

By Abner Oakes

ISA's Director of Outreach


Bronxdale High School

At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, faculty and leadership at Bronxdale High School set a goal for its community. In addition to the rigorous inquiry-based learning environment it already provided for its students, Bronxdale turned its focus to the development of a healthy learning environment where the academic, social and environmental wellness of each student was actively supported. A “School Wellness Council” was convened to develop programs to support the school-wide goal of community wellness. One of its first initiatives was the development of a Youth Court program established to build a healthier and more accountable community. Rather than focusing on the consequences that result from an offense, students, inside the court and out, are given a better understanding of the ramifications of their actions on the community and on themselves.

Sanctions have resulted in students attending wellness workshops focused on being more mindful of one’s actions. “Being a Community Advocate has helped me push myself to find reasons to support my claims in essays,” Anastasia, a sophomore said. Noel, a junior, said that Youth Court “has given me the opportunity to better myself and others.”

The community wellness program has been integrated into Bronxdale’s inquiry-based instructional practice. English classes are tackling difficult questions such as, “What is justice, and does it apply equally to everyone?” Students are able to engage and discuss questions in Socratic seminar discussions, leading to the type of higher order thinking that drives student achievement.

Rooted in inquiry-based learning, Bronxdale High School is dedicated to fostering a realistic, relevant and hands-on educational experience for all students. Through collaboration, both in the school and surrounding community, students are immersed in an environment that engages inquiry, promotes proactive learning, and cultivates curiosity.

Take a look at what the talented students and teachers are up to at Bronxdale High School.

Watch “We are Bronxdale!