Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers
Industry internships, students make take Syracuse University courses
Low graduation rate, building has few windows
Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers delivers on its theme: Students may run a mock business or take classes in accounting, financial literacy, real estate law and marketing. Top students may take college classes certified by Syracuse University and graduate with up to 30 college credits.
A special program organized by the NYPD works with students who want to become police officers.
Once very overcrowded and at risk of being closed because of poor performance, Bergtraum is poised for a reset. The schools graduation and college enrollment rates still lag behind the citywide average, but new leadership and increased support for students with special needs bring new energy and a sense of calm to the school.
Naima Cook, a former special education teacher at Bronx Lab, took over as principal in August 2014. The previous two principals lasted only two years each and were not popular with teachers, according to annual surveys.
Partnerships with accounting, consulting and other firms provide students with mentoring, tutoring and internships. In the VE (Virtual Enterprises) program, students perform all tasks related to running a mock business and participate in local and national VE competitions. Through a program with The Financial Womens Association, some girls are matched with a mentor from the business sector to get support with academics and exposure to career options.
Freshmen take two periods of English dailyone dedicated to reading and the other focused on writing. Living environment is also taught over two periods. Freshmen taking pre-algebra get double periods of math instruction. After 9th grade, students join one of three themed learning communitiesbusiness, law or technologythat they stick with through graduation.
Teachers incorporate group work and projects. In an English class, students used free writing and discussions with their peers to better understand topics of study. Students in a living environment class worked together to understand Darwins theory of "descent with modification," the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring.
SUPA (the Syracuse University Project Advance Academy), a selective program, offers advanced work and the opportunity to graduate with up to 30 college credits by taking courses certified by Syracuse University, AP (Advanced Placement) classes, and College Now courses at Borough of Manhattan or LaGuardia Community Colleges. In the SUPA classes we visited we saw lots of challenging work. For instance, sophomores read The Iliad in English class; in a required research class, they tackle weighty topics of their choosing, such as the impact of frequent relocations on children. SUPA students attend an early morning math class in addition to their regularly scheduled one to ensure they complete algebra 2/trigonometry early on in high school.
While students are mainly admitted to SUPA through the high school admissions process, Cook said she has opened up the program to a few strong 9th-graders initially enrolled in the schools 9th-grade academy, and she would like to expand enrollment even further.
Foreign language instruction is offered in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Students may also learn American Sign Language taught by a teacher in an onsite inclusion program for hearing-impaired students. AP and College Now classes are open to all qualifying students.
Classes are offered in visual arts, music and dance.
Students interested in law can join the moot court or mock trial teams. Student government, gay-straight alliance, robotics and SAT prep are among the selection of clubs and after-school activities.
Bergtraum is housed in a fortress-like brick building with few windows,adjacent to NYPD headquarters. It shares the facilities with three other small high schools: Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management, which opened in 2013, Manhattan Early College for Advertising and the Urban Assembly Maker Academy, which opened in 2014.
There are building-wide PSAL teams including the girls' basketball team, which won 15 consecutive city championships before losing to Frances Lewis in 2014.
Theres a full-time college counselor on staff as well as a part-time advisor funded by the Harlem Childrens Zone.
SPECIAL EDUCATION:There are a range of services and supports, including SETSS, self-contained and ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes, as well as adaptive physical education. Cook hired additional special education teachers to ensure students received needed services after the previous principal was investigated by the state for failing to provide special education students with required supports. An onsite program run by District 75 integrates hearing-impaired students into Bergtraums classes.
ADMISSIONS: Students are admitted to the 9th-grade academy based on the educational option formula that is designed to ensure a mix of low, average and high achieving students. The selective SUPA program accepts students based on test scores, grades, an interview and writing sample.(Laura Zingmond, 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?
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Programs and Admissions
Well-rounded liberal arts curriculum and opportunities to prepare students for post-secondary options.
Students will focus on a liberal arts program with an emphasis on math and science and will work towards earning college-level courses through Advance Placement and Syracuse University Project Advance coursework.
American Sign Language, Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP Biology, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Indoor Track, Lacrosse, Outdoor Track, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Flag Football, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Softball, Volleyball
Coed PSAL teams
Manhattan NY 10038