Who We Are


At Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS), our mission is to work with families to prepare each Pre K – twelfth grade student academically, emotionally, intellectually and socially to succeed in the college of her or his choice and beyond.


From Our Principal 


As a former teacher at WHEELS, I would ask my graduating seniors what they hoped would remain the same and what they hoped would be different when they returned to the school for their five year reunion. Consistently, year after year, students said that they hoped two aspects of WHEELS would always remain: the relationships between our students and teachers and the rigor in our classrooms.

Relationships are crucial to the success of WHEELS, and inherent in our mission is the expectation that all of our students will graduate socially and emotionally ready to succeed in college. Our students are in Crew daily, where they work with their Crew Leader and the other members of their Crew to raise their expectations for each other and for themselves. They deepen their understanding of our Habits of Work and Learning (responsibility, perseverance, curiosity, and craftsmanship) and Community Values (integrity, respect, compassion, and collaboration). Students also demonstrate their growth in Student-Led Conferences, where they reflect on their achievements and set goals for themselves in consultation with their family and Crew Leader. We know that future success requires leadership competencies and interpersonal skills, and we work to develop them further in every student and staff member, every day.

Rigor is the second crucial element outlined in our mission, with the expectation that all of our students will graduate academically and intellectually ready to succeed in college. We, as staff, are constantly working to ensure that the tasks we develop are complex, authentic, and require craftsmanship so that the student work and learning that result are our students’ best and have value to the school and the community at large. We value depth over breadth, and we believe this depth of understanding is ultimately more important.

These two foundational values help to explain our ranking as one of the best schools in the city by US News and World Report and recognition from President Obama in his 2014 State of the Union. We are proud of these accolades, and we know that they are the result of the daily work of our students, staff, and families.

Thank you for visiting our site, and please reach out with questions, feedback, ideas for partnership, or to learn more about visiting our school.


Thomas Rochowicz


WHEELS seniors at the 2017 College March

WHEELS seniors at the 2017 College March