Mott Hall III
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Mott Hall III
Mott Hall III, based on two other popular Mott Hall schools, offers students the opportunity to do hands-on projects, with an emphasis on math, science and technology, and engage in discussions within the structure of a more traditional school.
The school offers awards for academics and for students who demonstrate the "3 C's" - Citizenship, Caring and Conviction. In the hallway, teachers lead students in quiet, orderly lines. A tucked-in Oxford shirt, and tie, with khaki pants or a skirt is required. Weekly progress reports go home regarding conduct, dress code and class work.
At the same time, teachers challenge children to be independent and outspoken. Every classroom has a poster with prompts to encourage kids to speak up and explain why. Teachers push kids to think by "not giving in and telling them the answer," according to a 6th grade math teacher. We watched a teacher pause to allow a 6th grader enough time to recall the difference between "addends" and "factors," which she had momentarily forgotten. Another student took the time to explain his answer to a word problem: "'More than' is a key phrase for subtraction," he began. "If they can't tell you when they don't understand it fully," said a teacher, "they probably don't understand it fully."
Although the school does not offer advanced Regent's level science or math classes, teachers give top students harder problems from their Connected Math program books. Students also practice science or math skills at their own pace inside or outside the classroom using an online program called Khan Academy.
With classes of over 30 students, teachers take a close look at test results to become familiar with each child's area of weakness. The last period of the day is set aside for skill practice in these areas, while top students study for the specialized high school exam, or attempt an extra challenge, like making a math game.
In an effort to boost reading skills, and general knowledge, students read books in every subject including math, social studies and science. Teachers create simple outlines to assist struggling students in reading the more technical books.
Wednesday's well-organized "talent periods" are teacher-led classes in chess, baking, singing, rock band, drumming, creative writing, poetry and more. These periods rotate a few times during the year and culminate in student performances. Trips to the Paley Center for Media, Yankees Stadium and the Museum of Natural History tie in with talent period themes.
Principal Jorisis Stupart emphasized that the special education program is very flexible. Children in "self-contained" classes who need more challenge in a subject, such as math or English, may join team-taught classes that mix children with special needs and general ed students. Stupart said students with special needs are expected to reach for "independence, responsibility and high-standards," just like everyone else.
The school moved from the top two floors of PS 55 to a building shared with PS 110, across the street from Crotona Park. The move did not result in more space, but it enables Mott Hall III students to have the use of a real gym and nicer classrooms according to Stupart.
Top graduates attend Bard, Bronx Science, High School of American Studies, Brooklyn Latin and other specialized high schools. Other popular choices include parochial schools and Bronx Center for Science and Math.
Admissions: Students must mark it as their first choice and are chosen based on a one-on-one interview, a writing sample, math and ELA scores, attendance, and work habits. There is a week-long summer orientation. (Lydie Raschka, October 2013)