Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers

Phone: (212) 964-9610
Website: Click here
Admissions: educational option
Wheelchair accessible
Principal: Lottie Almonte
Neighborhood: Lower Manhattan
District: 2
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: ANTHONIO ORRIDGE

What's special:

Hands-on business experience

The downside:

Discipline is still a problem

The InsideStats


Our review

SEPTEMBER 2012 UPDATE: Principal Andrea Lewis left the school after the 2011-2012 school year. Named as interim acting principal was Lottie Almonte, the founding principal of the Performing Arts and Technology High School, a small school in the Thomas Jefferson High School building. After leaving PATH in 2009, Almonte worked for a network that supports schools.

2011 REVIEW: Located near City Hall behind police headquarters, Murry Bergtraum offers business and marketing courses as well as hands-on experience in a school store. The school has significant discipline problems and many students arrive with poor academic skills. It’s overcrowded, with 400 students more than it was designed to serve. Attendance is below average, and many students drop out.

Still, Murry Bergtraum attracts students from all five boroughs. “We are exposed to a range of cultures and backgrounds that a lot of the schools don’t offer,” said a 10th grader from Staten Island. It offers a range of Advanced Placement classes. The top 10 percent of the junior class goes to College Summit at Amherst College, then returns to teach others what they’ve learned.

Although the school landed on the city’s list of “Impact” or violent schools in 2009, a new principal, Andrea Lewis, has taken strong steps to bring order and to improve communication with students. Lewis, who became executive principal in fall 2010 after serving as principal of Acorn Community High School, convened a Principal Advisory Committee to give students a voice in decision making. The committee helped design a uniform of khaki or grey slacks/skirt, white shirt, and navy or burgundy sweater or blazer that students were required to wear beginning in fall 2011.

Lewis has worked to change the school culture and raise academic expectations: she created a Leadership Academy for older students who were behind in their studies, put in place a program for struggling readers called Read 180, and set up a Boys Academy to support college-bound male minority students with average grades–a group often overlooked because they are neither honors students nor at risk of failing.

While some students resist Lewis’s no excuses approach to discipline, others say she is on the right track. “I think everything the principal is doing now we really needed,” a 12th grader told us.

Following a fight in December 2010 that sent one student to the hospital, Lewis limited bathroom passes, a move that resulted in student unrest. “It was a few 9th grade students and they were all in the auditorium within 20 minutes,” commented Lewis. She created the Principal’s Advisory Committee in response to that incident.

In a Virtual Enterprise class, students form their own business (a travel magazine and insurance company) that they trade with other virtual student-developed companies worldwide. Students gain retail experience in a school store (in partnership with Estee Lauder and the Fashion Institute of Technology).

There is no music program. Foreign languages are limited to Spanish and Chinese. Students complete 50 hours of an internship annually from 10th-12th grade to gain real world skills. There are also a number of extracurricular activities and PSAL sports teams, including a noteworthy girls’ basketball team.

The college office is bright and clean with a row of computers for student use. Students may take college-level courses from teachers who have been trained at Syracuse University. Most graduates go to college; the most popular are CUNY or SUNY schools followed by private schools like Syracuse, St. Bonaventure and Ithaca College.

Special education: In addition to ICT and self-contained classes, the school accommodates wheelchairs in regular classrooms and provides aides for deaf and hearing-impaired students. An adaptive physical education class and physical/occupational therapy room are available for handicapped students.

Admissions: Educational option. In 2010, most of the 8th graders admitted had scored Level 1 and 2 on standardized tests. (Aryn Bloodworth, June 2011)

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