Yorkville East Middle School
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Nurturing school with engaging instruction; school day starts at 9 am
Yorkville East is small, nurturing middle school with strong academics and lots of extra-curricular activities. The school does a very good job serving a broad range of students and, with only three classes per grade, the staff gets to know all students well.
Tucked away on the top two floors of PS 158, Yorkville East has a cozy feel. The narrow hallways are lined with student essays, projects and artwork. Classrooms—even the most cramped ones—are set up for students to move around and work in groups. There are shelves and bins filled with books and rugs where students can stretch out to read or work on a task.
Writing is emphasized in all subjects. Students maintain notebooks where they jot down thoughts, ideas and observations related to their classwork, and from which the draw inspiration for larger pieces of writing. In science, 6th-graders read books on the water cycle as part of a project on climate change. In social studies, 8th-graders research and write lengthy essays on topics such as the Progressive Era, a period of social and political reform during the early 20th Century.
Teachers find thoughtful ways to ensure that all students are challenged and engaged. For instance, to ease her students into poetry, an English teacher has them first parse the lyrics of a familiar song.
All students take algebra in 8th grade. Students who need to shore up foundational skills in 6th and 7th grade may take “mouth-watering math,” which teaches fractions and percentages through cooking. In addition to algebra, all 8th-graders take a partial year course that reinforces math skills not covered in algebra, but will be revisited in 9th grade geometry.
Teachers are trained in “restorative justice,” an approach to discipline that minimizes suspensions and promotes positive behavior through conversation, reflection and corrective action. Students in all grades attend daily advisory groups where they participate in lessons on character development, cultural awareness and conflict resolution.
In addition to visual arts and Spanish, all students choose from elective courses referred to as “cerebral diversity” classes. Each quarter, students choose fun options that tap into their interests and talents such as yoga and meditation, “spa science,” engineering, improvisational theater and peer mentoring.
An after-school program offers a range of activities in music, art, sports and academic help. The gym is open every morning before school for students who want to start their day with physical activity.
One big perk: The school day starts at 9am, so students may sleep in a bit more than at a typical middle school.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: There are ICT (integrated co-teaching) courses in each grade. Yorkville East students with special needs outperform the citywide average on state exams.
ADMISSIONS: District 2 students only. Yorkville East admits half of incoming 6th-graders based on a review of their grades, test scores and records of behavior and attendance. Students may also be admitted via a lottery that does not consider grades or test scores, though priority is given to those who attend an open house. There is no tracking of students based on the method through which they are admitted. (Laura Zingmond, April 2019)Read more