Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School

Grades 9-12
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What’s Special

Supportive environment where students learn career skills such as masonry, carpentry and building preservation

The Downside

Shared building has metal detectors

Our Review

Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School (Mather) is a great fit for students who like hands-on learning and want to keep college options open. A CTE (career and technical educational) school, Mather opened in 2013 with the goal of preparing students for careers in fields like historic preservation, landscape management, archaeology, masonry and carpentry. The school was named after Stephen Tyng Mather, the first director of the NPS (National Parks Service) which partners with Mather.

Mather has a welcoming and orderly environment where teachers and students work closely together. Students told us that they liked the close-knit environment and felt very supported by staff. "We have the best teachers in this school," one student said.

Principal Larry Gabbard was an English teacher and assistant principal at the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx and an assistant principal at Pace High School in downtown Manhattan before he founded Mather. Gabbard has a background in business which influences his approach to leadership and teambuilding. He wants all staff to work together, solve problems for themselves and wear many different hats, he said.

Students take classes in historic preservation, landscape management, interior design and architectural drawing. NPS has a full-time staff member in the school who assists teachers in developing curriculum. Other NPS employees also work in the school, for example, teaching a six-week unit in professional decorative plastering. Gabbard says the trades are a great way to learn transferable skills such as perseverance and problem solving. "We are not a vocational school," said Gabbard, "we just elevate career readiness." Not all students at the school aspire to work in the trades, some said they wanted to be architects, zoologists or run their own business.

The academic curriculum is developed by teachers at the school and incorporates content relevant to the trades. In math, students start by taking algebra and geometry. Those who are college-bound may continue with algebra 2 and pre-calculus, while those on a career path may take math for the trades and do internships. Similarly in science, students take living environment and earth science and then may choose to take chemistry for the trades where they learn about things like mixing mortar and paint color.

Mather uses the formulaic Hochman method to teach students how to write. On our visit, a 10th-grade ELA (English language arts) class was reading an article from The Atlantic about rap lyrics and a facebook post being used as legal evidence for gang association. A freshman class drew parallels between Romeo and Juliet and teenagers today.

Mather is strict on attendance and lateness. Students who miss school attend compulsory classes on Saturdays. There is a school-wide points system for tracking attendance and good behavior. Students can use their points for rewards such as pizza nights or a trip to Six Flags. These points also count for 30 percent of grades. Students we spoke to said the system was motivating; it "allows you to fix your mistakes and be responsible," one said.

Mather offers plenty of opportunities for students to get academic or social and emotional support. There is peer tutoring, after-school tutoring and twice a week students have an "ER" (enrichment and reading) period where they receive homework help and read independently. Students attend "Packvisory" four days a week for 40 minutes. "Packs" are groups of 10 students from the same grade, who stay together for all four years. The school has two social workers and a guidance counselor. Restorative justice is used to manage discipline issues, and a core group of students are trained as peer mediators.

After its first year, Mather moved from the basement of the Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers to the Graphic Communication Arts building in Midtown. The school has a computer lab and two large CTE labs, one for carpentry and the other for masonry. There are shared science labs, a new library, weight room, refurbished gym and a large cafeteria. Students can play in the schoolyard during lunchtime. Clubs include art, virtual building, music, performing arts and anime. Students can join campus sports teams.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: About one-third of students at the school have IEPs (individualized education programs). More than half of Mather classes are team-taught.

ADMISSIONS: Limited unscreened. There is priority for Manhattan residents but students come from all five boroughs. There are more boys than girls, but the school hopes this will change once different parts of the CTE curriculum are introduced. (Ella Colley, May 2015)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school shares the Graphics Educational Campus with four other schools
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 0 dedicated spaces for the arts.
This school has 2 licensed arts teacher in Visual arts (part-time) and Music

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

Are students prepared for college?

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Building Arts & Landscape Management through Historic Preservation
Admissions Method: Limited Unscreened
Program Description

This is a hands-on/minds-on nine-credit CTE sequence in Historic Preservation: Intro to Historic Preservation (9), Landscape Mgmt. I & Intro to Building Arts-Carpentry/Masonry (10), Building Arts-Decorative Finishing & Landscape Mgmt. II (11), and Adv. Building Arts-Carpentry/Masonry (12). Students are expected to participate in apx. 14 work-based learning trips, complete an internship and a final performance assessment. Students WILL work outside, in ALL weather, and will occasionally get dirty!


Language Courses



Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Handball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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439 West 49th Street
Manhattan NY 10019
Hell's Kitchen (District 2)
Trains: 1, C, E to 50th St; 2, 3 to 59th St-Columbus Circle; A to 42nd St-Port Authority Bus Terminal; B, D to 7th Ave; N, Q, R, W to 49th St
Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M12, M20, M31, M34A-SBS, M42, M50, M57, M7, X1, X12, X14, X17J, X21, X22, X22A, X30, X31, X42, X7, X9


Larry Gabbard
Parent Coordinator
Chad Hudson

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