Research Laboratory for Bioinformatics & Life Sciences
On February 4, I visited the Research Lab for Bioinformatics & Life Sciences, which is housed in the Bennett High School complex, along with Bennett School of Innovative Technology and Middle Early College. Research Lab is a non-criterion school open to all students, housed on the entire 4th floor of the Bennett Campus.
During my visit, I met with Principal Angela Cullen, Program Coordinator Kira Mioducki, and Social Worker Cat Wells. I was first impressed with the science-based program and its incorporation of real-life, practical experiences.
Secondly, and equally impressive, was the emphasis on social-emotional development and learning with the regular practice of academic and social-emotional restorative circles. This was evident in the Opening Day Presentation that was shared with me, where staff learned restorative practices and practiced circles. Signs of this work were evident in the environment, including, the Circle Guidelines poster (see pictures) hanging in Principal Cullen's office. In addition, staff shared with me a Wellness Day planned for February 14, which consisted of PATCH, Yoga, Coping Skills, a Talking Circle, the SPCA, and Mindfulness.
Principal Cullen was transparent in sharing data on attendance, suspension, and Regents Exam credit. The Research Lab team are looking forward to their first graduating class this coming June, where a high percentage of students are expected to earn a Regents diploma.
It was evident to me that Principal Cullen and her team care a great deal about their students and the success of their program. This is an Innovative High School that I would categorize as a hidden gem and which I would send my children to in a heartbeat.
The program will offer an interactive and engaging environment based on project-based learning and collaboration with the medical community. This college preparatory program will prepare our graduates with the knowledge, skills and experiences to enroll in post-secondary science courses of study leading to high demand careers in a global economy.