Harlem Prep

Step by Step ~ A Retrospective ~ 1967–1975

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A Way Out of No Way:
Harlem Prep: Transforming Dropouts into Scholars, 1967–1977

By Hussein Ahdieh &
Hillary Chapman

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Harlem Preperatory School: An Alternative by Hussein Ahdieh (Dissertation, PDF, 7.4 MB)

Day by Day

Harlem Prep’s success in preparing disadvantaged students for college resulted from these fundamental principles:

  • providing a curriculum that prepared students for college admission and related to the students’ lives
  • maintaining a learning and teaching environment based on mutual respect among students, teachers and administrators

The curriculum included the core requirements such as English, social sciences, sciences and math (ranging from general math to Calculus) . Beyond the basics, it offered wide breadth of subjects, such as African history, philosophy and women’s studies. In addition to classroom work, the students benefitted from many field trips to educational and cultural institutions and businesses.

Close, effective relationships based on mutual respect and responsibility among teachers, students and administrators flourished. The students were encouraged to express themselves freely—even to disagree with their teachers—but to do so with dignity and respect. Conflicts were resolved by a cooperative exchange among students, teachers and administrators.

After a student went on to college, the Harlem Prep counselors stayed in touch with the student and new institution help ensure success.

Open classroom with Sister Elizabeth McLoughlin at right.
Scroll up to see more photos.