Murray Hill Academy
MANHATTAN NY 10016 Map
Murray Hill Academy
A hybrid school devoted to second chances, Murray Hill Academy promises personal attention in a close-knit environment in which traditional teaching coexists alongside high-tech online learning. About half the students began 9th grade at other high schools but transferred to Murray Hill in search of a better academic fit.
Principal Anita Manninen-Felix described her typical transfer as “a student who realizes, ‘I want to make a change. I messed up my first year.’ ” Ninth-graders can transfer to Murray Hill only if they earned fewer than eight credits at another high school. About 70 percent of Murray Hill students are older than their same-grade peers, and most are placed on a fast-track program designed to help them graduate on schedule. “In the end, the only thing that matters is whether you’re on a successful path,” Manninen-Felix said.
The other half of the school’s population are students who chose Murray Hill as 8th graders, often attracted by the small school’s focus on personal attention and technology. “We are a transfer school and a regular high school,” Manninen-Felix explained. “I want a school that helps everyone.” The young school is admittedly a work in progress (it won’t graduate its first class until 2014), and Manninen-Felix said she is struggling to get parents more involved.
Murray Hill opened in September 2010 and expects to grow each year until it has about 380 students. The academy is one of several schools that share the Norman Thomas High School building, a modern brick tower located south of Grand Central Terminal. (Norman Thomas is being phased out and will graduate its last class in 2014.) Murray Hill shares the building’s gyms and cafeteria with other schools but has classes on its own floor, which is brightly decorated with collages, murals and displays of student work.
Manninen-Felix said the school seeks to provide “the best of online learning and the best of face-to-face instruction.” Students often study with MacBook laptops using the iLearnNYC online instruction series, and each student has at least one daily period of independent online study. Teachers are often young, and many are former NYC Teaching Fellows.
Art and drama classes are popular, even though Murray Hill doesn’t advertise itself as a school for artists. “I feel like we’re more artsy than the arts school I came from,” said theater teacher Eustacia Wilson, who formerly taught at Fordham High School for the Arts. When we visited in 2011, the teens shaping clay figures in art class appeared to be the most engaged and excited students in the school.
Special education: Students with IEPs are taught in ICT classes that feature two teachers, one of whom specializes in special education. Murray Hill also offers SETSS resources.
Admissions: The school accepts about 80 students each year. For 8th graders, priority is given to students who attend an information session. Students hoping to transfer to Murray Hill must be younger than 16 and have earned fewer than eight credits at another high school. Transfer students are accepted after an interview with school officials. (Skip Card, November 2011)