Isaac Newton Middle School for Math & Science

Phone: (212) 860-6006
Admissions: District 4 preference
Principal: LISA NELSON
Neighborhood: East Harlem
District: 4
Grade range: 06 thru 08
Parent coordinator: CHERYL FORSYTH

What's special:

Caring and dedicated staff of administrators and teachers.

The downside:

Academic achievement still has a long way to go.

The InsideStats


Our review

Isaac Newton School for Science, Math and Technology, traditionally known for its hands-on instruction in math and science, fell on hard times in recent years. It had rapid turnover in principals; its science labs were in a state of disrepair; it had very few computers; and, for a time, the school had only a temporary math teacher because a permanent full-time instructor could not be found. Lisa Nelson, who was named principal in 2004, has had some success improving the school facilities, hiring good staff and engaging students. But academic achievement still has a long way to go.

The middle school, which occupies one floor of a building shared with the Manhattan Center for Math and Science High School, is well-lit and clean, and the atmosphere is quiet and orderly. One science lab has been renovated, the other is scheduled for renovation, and there is a new computer room. Students wear uniforms of khaki pants and white polo shirts.

Every classroom has at least two adults, and some have three. One class on each grade has been designated as Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT), with two teachers and a mix of special needs and general education students. In addition, many classrooms have student teachers from New York University and tutors from America Reads, an organization which brings volunteers into schools to read with students. Nelson hired a full-time teacher of English as a Second Language and admitted more students who are learning English. In an effort to improve student achievement, the school requires all students to stay for an extended day, and classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. In 2007, only about one third of the students were reading at grade level; fewer than half were on grade level in math.

Kids told us they liked their teachers because they are accessible and willing to offer extra help during lunch or after school. Students seemed happy and engaged in the classes we visited, chatting eagerly while they did group work and paying attention when the teachers spoke. Students in a 6th grade humanities class listened to a teacher read aloud from Freak the Mighty, a popular middle school book. While the text was too difficult for some students to read by themselves, they could understand it and take notes when it was read aloud. Teachers attempt to integrate math and science. For example, when they learn about the slope of a line in math they learn about inclined planes in science. In an 8th grade history class, kids played the role of different characters from farmers to elected officials in the Civil War and debated from both the Northern and Southern perspectives.

Eleventh graders from Manhattan Center serve as mentors to Isaac Newton students. Middle school students who graduate to Manhattan Center may have the same student mentor in 9th grade.

Special education: Every grade has a class designated as Collaborative Team Teaching and includes students with special education needs.

After school: The school offers robotics, yoga, photography, cooking, soccer, running and baseball.

Admissions: Students from District 4 receive preference. Applicants must tour the school and have a letter of recommendation from a teacher. (Jacquie Wayans, October 2007)

Please post comments

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't)
  • No profanity. No racial or ethnic slurs. No personal attacks
  • Criticism is fine but don't be nasty.
  • Flag inappropriate comments. (Hover your cursor over comments to see flag)

Find another middle school