Principal's Message

Dear UNHS Community,

It is my great pleasure to write you as the principal of University Neighborhood High School.  As a parent of a New York City public school student, I know what it is like to have a multitude of schools to research and choose from.  When I was selecting and ranking schools for my child, the most important aspects to me were the school’s ratings in positive learning environment, school culture, and high expectations.  I wanted to know whether my child would walk into his school every day and be not only accepted and protected, but also celebrated for who he is.  As a principal, I do my best to work with all stakeholders to model the school around the values and structures that I am looking for as a parent.  The school’s successes in these areas can be measured in a myriad of ways.  On our recent Quality Review, the school received 8 out of 10 Well Developed ratings with an area of celebration in Positive Learning Environment.  On the school’s recent survey, 97% of families said that their child is safe in school; 98% of students said that their teachers respect their cultural background; 97% of students said that their teachers represent positive images of people from a variety of races, ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds; and 100% of teachers said that they design appropriate instruction that is matched to student’s needs.  Our positive, inclusive learning environment was also echoed back to us from our entire school community this past winter when we conducted a survey asking students, parents, faculty, and staff what first three words came to mind when they thought of University Neighborhood High School.  The top results were very telling: Diversity, College, Caring, Opportunity, Community, Accepting, and Unity.  I could not agree more with those results.

It is this safe, positive, and supportive school community that allows the school to be one of the best high schools in New York City for not only preparing students for college, but providing students early access to college.  The school offers a robust College Now program where beginning in the spring of students sophomore year, some students are eligible to begin taking college level classes and earning both high school and college credits for their course work right here at University Neighborhood High School.  In addition, students can take a number of Advanced Placement courses beginning in 10th grade, including but not limited to Mandarin, Spanish, Calculus, Art, and Computer Science. The 2019 graduating class saw 80.3% of its graduates earning enough college credits to have one entire semester of college completed while 30.6% of graduates have completed a full year of college!  Among those graduates’ college acceptances were such distinguished universities as Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Penn State University, University of Vermont, and many more (see full College Acceptance List here)!  We have earned or exceeded a 93% graduation rate the last two years, a 71% College Readiness rate (more than 20% above citywide average), and 100% of our June 2019 graduates have applied and been accepted to two- and four- year colleges.  These inclusive school structures, supports, and outstanding faculty and staff members help make University Neighborhood the #15 ranked High School in New York City according to US News & World Report 2017.

For students, the road to success begins in the 9th grade year.  Students are heterogeneously programmed for the same challenging courses, providing equal access and opportunity for all students.  Students are supported through a multitude of programs inside and outside of the school such as Saturday Academy, after-school and lunchtime tutoring, a concise 4-year College and Career Readiness Road Map for all students, and top-notch guidance and counseling services departments.  Like my office door, which is constantly open to students, the school doors are open to students and families six days a week, and our online systems such as Jupiter Grades, weekly reminder and announcement emails each Monday, the bi-monthly school newspaper, the school’s website, Google Classroom, and Phone Messenger ensure that families are in constant communication with members of the school community. 

Though we are pleased with the school’s successes, as a school community, we are never satisfied.  I will always look at every aspect of our school through the eyes of a parent, because that is what I am first.  I am constantly asking myself whether aspects of our school will be good enough for my own children, and if the answer is no, I immediately work to improve them.  I pride myself on making this a school that my children could attend when they come of high school age.  We will always work diligently to provide the best high school experience and incredible opportunities for all of our young people at University Neighborhood. 

We thank you for taking the time to visit us and should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call, email, text or walk right through the school doors and see us.  We are always here to support you in providing the best education possible for your child. 




Matthew Willie