Our Approach

critical thinking drives us

What’s it like to learn and teach at Coney Island Prep?

Critical thinking is at the forefront. All scholars are deeply engaged in the work and can be heard explaining their thought processes, asking questions to each other, and making connections between different ideas. The teacher is there to facilitate scholars’ conversations and continuously put the heavy thinking work back on them. There are more questions than answers.

The room is abuzz with positive chatter and student voices are the dominant sound– sometimes it is one scholar speaking, sometimes it is groups of scholars speaking.

It is safe to not know. When scholars take risks and make mistakes they are celebrated for their courage and asked to articulate how the feedback reshapes their thinking. Scholars consistently revise their work based on new understandings.

It’s clear that scholars feel a sense of ownership over the classroom and feel like they have the tools and support they need to be successful.


The tasks scholars are working on are purposeful, engaging, and worthwhile. They are designed to pique interest and to foster curiosity about the content.

The arrangement of the desks is fluid and aligned to the task at hand.

Scholars are frequently seen working in groups, pairs, or individually.


The walls are print-rich and reflect the scholars themselves as well as academic concepts they’re tackling. The room feels warm and welcoming.


We create equitable classrooms and envision a school that empowers scholars. To that end, we have done our jobs not just when scholars have mastered standards, but when scholars’ sense of ownership and demonstration of learning reflects both their identities and their preparation and readiness to lead.

School Culture

At CIP, we believe that in order to achieve our ambitious student achievement goals, we must have school cultures that promote and accelerate the development of a strong academic foundation, and character and leadership skills in our scholars. We believe that scholars must be trusted, seen, challenged and valued members of an inclusive school community. The result will be scholars who own their learning and educational outcomes, blaze their paths to college and beyond, and step into their roles as leaders.

Our schools actively embrace, value, and recognize scholars’ humanity, backgrounds, and experiences every day. We believe that their experiences, inside and outside of school, are assets to be leveraged in learning, and that our school culture systems must prepare scholars for success in the college and career of their choice.


Our schools highlight the positive behaviors of our scholars through robust and meaningful rewards that are equitable and accessible for all scholars.

At CIP, we ensure that all scholars get exposure to colleges and universities, and receive exposure to cultural experiences beyond their community as well.


We believe in setting clear expectations for scholars and having clear consequences consistently implemented for all. We also know that effectively addressing many student behavior issues require scholars to reflect on their choices and think about how to repair the harm they’ve caused their peers, adults, and the larger community. Repairing harm requires frequent opportunities for communication with others and strong relationships between teachers, scholars and families.

PRIDE Values

At Coney Island Prep, advisory plays a pivotal role in fulfilling our mission to prepare all students for the college and career of their choice. We know that when students feel connected to school, when they have strong relationships with their teachers, when they know they can rely on at least one adult in the building to advocate for them and support them, and when they feel truly seen and heard by their teachers, they are more likely to be successful both in school and in their future.

  • PRIDE Lower Elementary school values image
  • PRIDE Upper Elementary school values image
  • PRIDE Middle school Values image
  • PRIDE High school Values image

Advisory serves as one specific place to meet all of these basic and essential developmental needs by accomplishing three main goals; providing a place for students to build relationships between peers and a staff member, explicitly teaching character development, and advisors serving as the main contact point for families.

In advisory, character development is taught through PRIDE values at each campus. Advisors work carefully to ensure they are maintaining the dignity and safety of all the students, fluidly moving between roles as a facilitator, participant, leader, and guide as needed. In examining the PRIDE values at each school, we can see a clear picture of who a CIP scholar is.