S1ngle Shepherd

Single Shepherd

Equity and Excellence

In fall 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious set of goals for New York City schools: By 2026, 80% of our students will graduate high school on time, and two-thirds of our students will be college ready. To reach these goals, we must:

  • Start early: to ensure a strong foundation for our students through Pre-K for All and universal literacy in 2nd grade
  • Support strong teachers and a rigorous curriculum in every school: to build the capacity of our teachers and increase student access to the courses they need to succeed
    • Meet communities where they are: engage with students and families and ensure programming and support is tailored to the needs of each community.

What is Single Shepherd? 

The goal of the Single Shepherd initiative is to pair every middle and high school student grades 6 – 12 in Districts 7 and 23 with a dedicated school counselor or social worker who will support them through graduation and college enrollment. 

A Single Shepherd is a mentor with the skills to listen to, advocate for, and connect students with resources for success in school, and in their future endeavors in college and career. A Shepherd is experienced and skilled to be able to support students in making academic and personal choices. 

A qualified Shepherd is an adult who is knowledgeable in:

  • The NYC DOE high school application process
  • Planning for college
  • The impact of societal challenges
  • Social dynamics, group processes, problem solving
  • Social-justice and building community partnerships

Single Shepherds in Districts 7 and 23 will have an in-depth understanding of social-emotional challenges, as well as high level training in post-secondary readiness.

About the Initiative

Why does it matter?

This initiative pairs students with dedicated counselors who will see them through high school graduation and into college in order to improve outcomes, especially for at-risk students. Students and their families will be connected to a consistent source of academic, and social-emotional supports for success. 

What is the need?

This initiative is targeted to raise the high school graduation rates and college attainment rates for District 7 and District 23. In both of these districts, academic disparities emerge in the early grades as well. Math and ELA proficiency rates in elementary and middle school in both districts currently fall below the citywide average. 

What does implementation look like?

Shepherds support students at a roughly 1:100 ratio, and meet with students both one-on-one and in groups to identify needs, provide individualized support, and assist them in the development of the social-emotional and academic skills necessary to thrive in their education. 

How are Shepherds selected?

Shepherds are selected from existing staff (a pool of social workers and school counselors) and new applicants. Shepherds are interviewed by the NYC DOE Office of Counseling Support Programs in conjunction with principals’ input.


News Articles

Equity and Excellence: Mayor de Blasio Announces Reforms to Raise Achievement Across all Schools(Open external link)


More Information 

NYC DOE Equity and Excellence

Office of Counseling Support Programs
New York City Department of Education 
52 Chambers Street, Room 218
New York, NY 10007
(212) 374–7534
[email protected]