The Mott Hall School

An Insideschools pick
71-111 CONVENT AVE
MANHATTAN NY 10027 Map
Phone: (212) 281-5028
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 6, exam
Principal: Judith De Los Santos
Neighborhood: Harlem
District: 6
Grade range: 6-8
Parent Coordinator: EVELYN CAMACHO MORAN
Unzoned
Screened

What's special:

Dynamic principal and imaginative classes

The downside:

Cramped, worn facilities

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Founded in 1985 as a magnet school for gifted children, Mott Hall has long been a source of pride in the Dominican communities of Washington Heights and Inwood where most its pupils live. This school brings motivated kids together and provides a network of support that sustains them up to high school and beyond.

Mott Hall is thriving under the leadership of Judith De Los Santos-Pena, who became principal in 2015. Teachers are designing lessons that allow kids to move, debate and collaborate more, and the school has re-established its lost connection to City College nearby.

We saw engaging instruction in every class. In science, children used different tools to simulate bird beaks to try to get beans out of a cup in an exercise on adaptation. Sixth graders formed a human number line for a game of "Simon Says" to reinforce the concept of absolute value. Choices during and after school include instrumental music, coding, Latin, French, Spanish, poetry and more. Mott Hall now requires all children to take Regents-level courses in science and math.

Class size is small and teachers know every child by name. Children are welcome to eat with teachers in their classrooms at lunchtime. Alumni gather with staff for an annual picnic in Inwood Park. "Children really make a connection to the professionals here," said a teacher.

A personable psychology major, fluent in English and Spanish, De Los Santos had been a Mott Hall teacher herself in the 1990s and quickly earned the respect of staff, many of whom, according to school surveys, were unhappy with the previous principal. She has "a lot of trust in teachers," said a veteran teacher.

The school has had ups and downs over the years. Founded by Mirian Acosta Sing, Mott Hall originally served children in grades 4 to 8—a configuration designed to give gifted low-income children five years to prepare for rigorous high schools. It was one of the first schools in the city to use laptops. In its early days, children studied the effect of light on coral reefs in labs at City College, and explored ratio and proportion by designing kites and building kites out of balsa wood and paper. Unfortunately, over the years, some of these special features fell away. (The school lost its 4th and 5th grades in 2008)

To inspire the staff, De Los Santos-Pena pulled up videos of classroom instruction in Mott Hall's heyday. She and assistant principal Natasha Bracey-Ferguson added chorus, drama and orchestra, and arranged for Mott Hall students to use City College science labs again to supplement Living Environment coursework. Children visit Aaron Davis Hall on campus to watch films there on topics they are studying in class, such as Under the Same Moon, about immigration. Two City College math teachers walk over to coach teens and staff on Fridays. Architecture students are helping Mott Hall children design a garden.

Eighth graders are dismissed early on Fridays for community service. A "green team" visited a Brooklyn recycling plant to learn more about the science of recycling and then raise awareness in the neighborhood. A drama team works with a theater group for the disabled, preparing shows for people living in senior homes.

The space is cramped, and the school lacks a gymnasium, elevator and auditorium. However, when an opportunity arose to move to a more modern space, alumni wrote passionate letters opposing the plan, saying its proximity to City College is part of its identity.

The dean walks children to the M100 and M101 bus stop on Amsterdam Avenue after school to make sure they get there safely. There is yellow bus service for 6th graders.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: In a small "self-contained" class for children with special needs, the adults were encouraging and funny. There are team-teaching classrooms on every grade, in which about six children with disabilities are mixed in with their general education peers.

ADMISSIONS: Open to students living in District 6. Students must submit an application by early December, and some are invited to take an admissions test in January. The school considers grades, attendance, teacher recommendations and behavior. "Motivation and work" are the most important thing, said De Los Santos. About two-thirds of admitted students scored level 3 and 4 on standardized tests; one third scored 1 or 2. For more information contact Delca Ortiz (Dortiz@themotthall.org) or call (212) 281-5028. (Lydie Raschka, February 2017)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Number of Students 274

Average Daily Attendance 95%

Uniforms? NA

Students at this school

Asian

  
2%

Black

  
9%

Hispanic

  
84%

White

  
4%

Free Lunch

  
74%

Special ed

  
12%

English Language Learners

  
4%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: NA 2.59 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

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?

83% 49% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

100% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

95% 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 class

NA 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

11% 23% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

54% 29% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

69% hi 32% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

18% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

19% 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

0% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

21% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

7% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

33% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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