The Ascend Difference:
Students of all backgrounds are valued, respected, and feel a sense of belonging.
Students are empowered to develop essential knowledge, skills and agency needed to succeed in college and beyond.
School buildings with spacious, light-filled classrooms and common spaces where students can learn collaboratively.
Our schools are rooted in our Brooklyn community.
Sophia Balis-Harris is the principal of Cypress Hills Ascend Lower School after several years as an instructional leader at Ascend. Prior to her role as principal, Balis-Harris led Ascend’s K-4 math program as director of lower school mathematics, designing curriculum and delivering professional development to school leaders. She previously served as dean of instruction at Bushwick Ascend Lower School, where she coached teachers and – using data to propel student academic achievement – drove proficiency gains of 35 percentage points in reading and 25 percentage points in math in one year. Balis-Harris also led her students to extraordinary growth as a lower school general and special education teacher at Brownsville Ascend and, before that, at Success Academy. Balis-Harris holds a bachelor’s of arts in political science from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree in childhood and special education from Touro College.
Find out more about our lower school program, approach, and values.