East Side Middle School
Challenging academics served with kindness and warmth.
Parents say science instruction could be better
East Side Middle School has become one of the most sought-after and successful middle schools in the city under the steady leadership of Principal David Getz. It is a student-friendly place that emphasizes challenging academics and welcomes parents. Since moving from its cramped quarters in a shared elementary school into a brand-new building in 2010, popular East Side Middle has grown from 350 to 435 students. The facilities now include a gym, a spacious library, but no auditorium , which makes it difficult to stage elaborate plays. Once the expansion is complete, there will be five classes in each grade, including two ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes per grade.
A committee of parents, teachers, and the director hand-pick the staff. The teachers meet regularly, planning lessons together. Sixth graders become accustomed more easily to middle school with the help of a homeroom teacher for 90-minute classes in humanities (combined English and social studies) and 47-minute classes with other teachers that specialize in math, science, art or Spanish. A weekly Advisory Program provides additional help by teaching new middle-schoolers study skills, stress management and other coping strategies.
Getz, who has authored both children's fiction and non-fiction books, makes sure his teachers capture students' interest through special projects and engaging assignments. In a humanities class, a book on the Holocaust is studied through a historical perspective that includes analyzing the characters' motivations from a psychiatric and philosophical viewpoint. Sixth graders learn how to create scenes for their own plays. Math is taught using a mixture of programs and teacher-designed units, combining theoretical math with real world applications. In a science class, students learn, through film and art, about diseases and how they are transmitted. In a program called Think Elephant students are connected with a scientist in Thailand working to understand elephant cognition through online video chats.
The arts have a palpable presence in the school. Student artwork is displayed in staircases and hallways. The spacious lunchroom also serves as a stage, where plays are performed and students sing in the newly created Glee Club.
A wide variety of elective classes are offered during the school day including are computer game design, dance, guitar, photography, and micro-finance. East Side Middle also has many sports teams including: boys and girls basketball, track, girls softball, boys baseball, boys and girls soccer, volleyball and cheerleading.
Getz believes that the schools job is not done unless the kids are thoroughly prepared for high school. For the all important 7th-grade year, the school offers core classes with two teachers, and preparation for the high school admission process, including Specialized High School Test Prep, workshops for parents, and individual student conferences. About 80% of the 8th-graders go on to selective and specialized high schools.
The active Parents Association publishes the Tiger Tales newsletter several times a year. ESMS also hosts special author nights for the parents.
Admissions: Admission to ESMS is limited to children living in District 2. Students generally need to score level 3 or 4 on the 4th-grade state reading and math tests to be considered. There is an interview, during which a brief math test is taken and the students produce a writing sample. The interview portion counts for about 40% of the total grade. Grades, absences and latenesses are also considered. Cut-off scores vary from year to year.
High school admissions: East Side Middle graduates go on to some of the top high schools in District 2 and the city. Top choices include: Eleanor Roosevelt, Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, LaGuardia, Frank McCourt and Beacon. See the school's website for the most recent information. (Eliana Mascio, June 2011; updates via email from the school, 2017)