New York City Museum School

Phone: (212) 675-6206
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 2 priority
Wheelchair accessible
Neighborhood: Chelsea/ Greenwich Village
District: 2
Grade range: 09 thru 12

What's special:

Chance to study at city's greatest museums.

The downside:

Some friction between between staff and administration

The InsideStats


Our review

The New York City Museum School is an orderly high school where students visit museums, parks and other cultural venues to enhance their studies. Museum-based study units, called Modules, center on projects and culminate in student presentations. "What I really, really adore about this school is Module," said 10th grader Sharon. It is "so much fun to teach," echoed Spanish teacher Amanda Fletcher.

The school has a traditional feel but there is a variety of teaching styles. On our visit, the Japanese teacher passed around bills and coins, fielding questions about the cost of French fries and electricity in Japan. A 9th grade English teacher posed a question about relationships based on the novel A Raisin in the Sun, then directed students to "Come up with two points with a partner." Other teens sat quietly in rows, heads bent, taking notes on lined paper in binders with colored tabs. Tenth grade Earth Science students broke into groups to depict the earth's layers in clay.

During Wednesday Modules, students study their topic in the morning and go out in the afternoon, usually by subway, to South Street Seaport Museum, Japan Society, or the Brooklyn Museum, among other venues. In Geometric Structures in Our World, 10th graders visit churches and the Brooklyn Bridge and design and build a model bridge of their own. In 9th grade, students visit a health club and take a 3-mile exercise walk in Central Park in the Health Module. They meet with professionals at a health clinic and go to Whole Foods. Tenth grade Geology students sketch and write in field journals in Inwood, Central, and Prospect Parks.

Principal Darlene Miller is a stickler for order and details--such as telling students what kind of 3-ring binders are best. Some teachers complain that she can be tactless and overbearing; only 18 percent of teachers responding to the Learning Environment Survey agreed that school leaders invite them to play a meaningful role in making decisions. Miller said she's had to make some "unpopular decisions" for the benefit of student learning. However, the tension doesn't seem to affect staff dedication: in 2011 they voted to participate in extra weekly professional development. And the school has received an "A" on five progress reports in a row.

Museum shares the cafeteria, gym and auditorium with NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies and NYC Lab Middle School. Museum and Lab field joint sports teams in basketball, baseball, golf, track, soccer and tennis.

Clubs include newspaper, yearbook, student government, drama and Harvard Model Congress. Some students started a music club and depending on the year there may be photography or other offerings. The school's top priority is on getting kids ready for college. "We expect that students are going to shoot for the Advanced Regent's diploma with honors," said Miller. Colby, Wheaton, Kenyon, and SUNY Purchase are among recent college acceptances.

Special education: The school offers classes with two teachers, one of whom is certified in special education, and a mix of students in both general and special education.

Admissions: Preference to District 2 students and to those who have at least an 80 average and who score Level 3 or Level 4 on standardized tests. Tours are held on Thursdays in October and November. In recent years, the school has admitted students from out-of-district. (Lydie Raschka, October 2011)

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