Manhattan Village Academy
Manhattan NY 10010
Strong college-prep curriculum and imaginative teaching
Not all students can keep up with the workload
Manhattan Village Academy offers a demanding college-prep curriculum, imaginative projects and plenty of writing practice. It's an unusual blend of teaching philosophies: Like a traditional school, the kids wear uniforms, call teachers "Mr." and "Ms.," and study hard for Regents exams. Like a progressive school, they have plenty of hands-on work. They may explore themes such as "globalization" and "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" or work in a group on a physics experiment measuring and graphing the speed at which they walk.
Principal Hector Geager says he wants to make sure students get the breadth that traditional schools offer and the depth that progressive schools offer. His students take nine Regents examsfour more than the state requires. In addition, they must complete five "portfolios," which may consist of hefty term papers, projects and oral presentations. Twelfth-graders are expected to write term papers of 10 to 15 pages on topics like global trade agreements. Everyone takes four years of science, including physics. Ninth- and 11th-graders take two hours of math a day, so by the end of four years everyone has had the equivalent of six years of high school math.
The workload is heavy, and not all students can manage it. Geager says eight to 10 students typically transfer to less demanding high schools after 9th grade. (The school accepts a similar number of incoming 10th-graders) But for those who can do the work, the rewards are great. The principal says graduates have been admitted to top private collegesincluding Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia and Cornell.
The tone of the school is serious but not oppressive. There are no bells, and class changes are orderly. Students wear uniformsgray pleated skirts or trousers and blue sweaters. Eleventh- and 12th-graders may leave the building for lunch, although many choose to eat in the pleasant cafeteria.
Kids say they typically do three hours of homework a night, but teachers are available to help during the day and after school. "They give you one-on-one attention," one girl said. "It's hard, but it's worth it."
On our recent (2015) visit we saw a small group that had failed the Regent's Chemistry exam working with a teacher during school hours for extra help. Teachers have incorporated SAT prep into all grades. The school also offers eight Advanced Placement classes.
It's a small school, with only 100 students in each grade, and the principal knows every student by name. A "no excuses" leader, he waits at the top of the stairs in the morning to confront tardy students. Manhattan Village seems to have a knack for taking kids who were only average or even below-average students in middle school and helping them succeed in high school. "If the kids have good attendance, we can work around the academics," Geager said. Most students come from Inwood, Washington Heights, the Upper West Side and the Bronx. (Although Manhattan Village Academy is physically located in District 2, it does not give preference to District 2 students.)
Gaeger is open to ideas new teachers bring but has little patience with those unwilling to change practice if needed. A young teacher said, "It's very structured, but that makes it better." Teachers have pioneered new ideas here, such as Delta Math, an online tool created by teacher Zach Korzyk.
The school has a full-time college counselor. Eighty-five percent of graduates enrolled in college within six months of graduation, according to the school's 2014 School Quality Guide.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers SETSS and ICT classes.
ADMISSIONS: Open to students citywide who score at least Level 2 on standardized tests, have good attendance and have grades of at least 85 in academic subjects. More than 4,000 apply. Incoming students must commit to a four-week summer program in July. "Attendance is the number one factor" for admissions, said the principal. (Clara Hemphill, October 2011; Lydie Raschka, March 2015)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
How many graduate?
Are students prepared for college?
How does this school serve English Language Learners?
How does this school serve students with disabilities?
Programs and Admissions
Rigorous core curriculum based on four years of Math, Science, English and History.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Economics, AP English, AP European History, AP Psychology, AP US History, AP World History
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Soccer
Girls PSAL teams