M.S. 224 Manhattan East School for Arts & Academics
MANHATTAN NY 10029 Map
M.S. 224 Manhattan East School for Arts & Academics
Manhattan East School for Arts and Academics is a small, citywide middle school that offers students strong academics and lots of arts instruction in music, visual arts, dance and drama. A magnet school since it opened in 1981, Manhattan East attracts motivated students from diverse backgrounds; many come from across the city, traveling at least an hour to get to school.
The music program is very strong, and students we observed seemed serious in class. All 6th- and 7th-graders study instrumental music and choose a wind, brass, or percussion instrument to play. Starting in 7th grade, students can join the school's concert or jazz band. All students can choose to participate in chorus.
Students in all grades study visual arts. By the beginning of 8th grade, serious artists develop portfolios for admission to competitive arts high schools such as Frank Sinatra and LaGuardia. In addition, interested students can choose dance and drama taught by faculty from The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts.
In academic classes, we saw strong instruction and engaged students. Teachers have flexibility in lessons and tend to balance traditional text book-based exercises with more creative projects. In 7th grade, social studies students wrapped-up their study of the Algonquin Indians by making dream catchers out of yarn and plastic hoops. "After we study a subject in class, we always finish up with a project," said a student. The 8th grade English teacher, who was new to the school, wove social theories into lessons, having his students examine Marxism, utopia and dystopia through their readings of "Lord of the Flies," "The Hunger Games" and "The Giver."
All 8th graders take algebra and earth science, but only about half take the Regents exams in those subjects. "We used to have all students take the exams, but now we have a cut-off to qualify," said longtime principal, Liliana Sarro. Strong students also take the U.S. History Regents exam, which is typically taken in the 11th grade. "The 8th grade curriculum covers what's tested by the U.S. History Regents, so why not take the test in 8th grade?" said Sarro.
Though no student misbehavior was observed during our visit, there have been complaints of bullying and fights at school. The issues that have arisen, parents say, are more often between Manhattan East and students at the other schools that share the building, rather than within Manhattan East itself. Sarro said that the school is safe and calm, but when a problem arises between students at school, or develops outside of school and is brought to the staff's attention, the school addresses it immediately.
Manhattan East is located in East Harlem, a long trek from the nearest subway station. It occupies the entire the fifth floor of a 1920's era building that was the former home of JHS 99. The school shares the building with the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation, and Success Academy Harlem 3 kindergarten through 2nd graders. All schools share use of the auditorium, cafeteria, library and renovated outdoor track and yard. Each school has its own lunch and recess times.
Special Education: Students with special needs are placed in general education classes as well as in self-contained classes. Students in self-contained classes are integrated with the others for gym, art and some music classes.
Afterschool: The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center runs activities such as dance, step and academic help every afternoon until 6 p.m. at the school. The Beacon Program sponsors after-school activities that are open to students from all schools in the building as well as to community members. Manhattan East has a basketball team.
Admissions: Parents tour the school in the fall, and prospective students who submit an application are invited back to sit in on classes for a whole day to see if the school is appropriate for them. During their full-day visit, children take a math and writing test and are interviewed by a faculty member. "It's important for kids to want to be here, because the work is challenging and many will have a long commute," said Sarro. Applications are accepted from students citywide. (Laura Zingmond, November, 2011, updated on shared building, 2015)
At a glance
Number of Students 166
Average Daily Attendance 93%
INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: NA 2.59 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
Safety & vibe
DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE KIDS NICE?
How many students complain about bullying?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students say students at their school respect one another?43% 49% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?92% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?75% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE
ARE CLASSES BIG?
Number of students in an average english classNA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE
How many students are chronically absent?21% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE