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The Mott Hall School

Grades: 6-8
Staff Pick
401 W 164th Street
Manhattan NY 10032
Phone: 212-281-5028

Our Insights

What’s Special

Dynamic principal and imaginative classes

The Downside

Cramped, worn facilities

Founded in 1985 as a magnet school for gifted children, Mott Hall has long been a source of pride in the Dominican communities of Washington Heights and Inwood where most its pupils live. This school provides a network of support that sustains students up to high school and beyond.

Mott Hall is thriving under the leadership of Judith De Los Santos-Pena, who became principal in 2015. Teachers design lessons that allow kids to move, debate and collaborate, and the school has re-established its lost connection to City College nearby.

We saw engaging instruction in every class. In science, children used different tools to simulate bird beaks to try to get beans out of a cup in an exercise on adaptation. Sixth graders formed a human number line for a game of "Simon Says" to reinforce the concept of absolute value. Choices during and after school include instrumental music, coding, Latin, French, Spanish, poetry and more. Mott Hall now requires all children to take Regents-level courses in science and math.

Class size is small and teachers know every child by name. Children are welcome to eat with teachers in their classrooms at lunchtime. Alumni gather with staff for an annual picnic in Inwood Park. "Children really make a connection to the professionals here," said a teacher.

A personable psychology major, fluent in English and Spanish, De Los Santos had been a Mott Hall teacher herself in the 1990s and quickly earned the respect of staff. She has "a lot of trust in teachers," said a veteran teacher.

The school has had ups and downs over the years. Founded by Mirian Acosta Sing, Mott Hall originally served children in grades 4 to 8, a configuration designed to give gifted low-income children five years to prepare for rigorous high schools. It was one of the first schools in the city to use laptops. In its early days, children studied the effect of light on coral reefs in labs at City College, and explored ratio and proportion by designing kites and building kites out of balsa wood and paper. Unfortunately, over the years, some of these special features fell away. (The school lost its 4th and 5th grades in 2008.)

To inspire the staff, De Los Santos-Peña pulled up videos of classroom instruction in Mott Hall's heyday. She and assistant principal Natasha Bracey-Ferguson added chorus, drama and orchestra, and arranged for Mott Hall students to use City College science labs again to supplement Living Environment coursework. Children visit Aaron Davis Hall on campus to watch films there on topics they are studying in class, such as Under the Same Moon, about immigration. Two City College math teachers walk over to coach teens and staff on Fridays. Architecture students are helping Mott Hall children design a garden.

Eighth graders are dismissed early on Fridays for community service. A "green team" visited a Brooklyn recycling plant to learn more about the science of recycling and then raise awareness in the neighborhood. A drama team works with a theater group for the disabled, preparing shows for people living in senior homes.

The space is cramped, and the school lacks a gymnasium, elevator and auditorium. However, when an opportunity arose to move to a more modern space, alumni wrote passionate letters opposing the plan, saying its proximity to City College is part of its identity.

The dean walks children to the M100 and M101 bus stop on Amsterdam Avenue after school to make sure they get there safely. There is yellow bus service for 6th graders.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: In a small "self-contained" class for children with special needs, the adults were encouraging and funny. There are team-teaching classrooms on every grade, in which about six children with disabilities are mixed in with their general education peers.

ADMISSIONS: Open to students living in District 6. Screened. For more information see (Lydie Raschka, February 2017)

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School Stats

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

Is this school safe and well-run?

From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey

How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
78% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
58% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
84% Citywide Average

From the 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
4% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
79% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
46% Citywide Average
How many middle school students scored 3-4 on the state reading exam?
51% Citywide Average

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

How many 8th-graders earn high school credit?
39% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From the 2021-22 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
90% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

From the 2020 School Directories

Uniforms required?

How does this school serve special populations?

From the New York State 2022-2023 Assessment Database

How many English language learners scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
15% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


Harlem (District 6)
Trains: B Line, C Line to 135th St; 1 Line, A Line, D Line to 125th St
Buses: Bx15, Bx33, M10, M100, M101, M104, M11, M2, M3, M4, M5, M60-SBS


Judith De Los Santos
Parent Coordinator
Evelyn Camacho Moran

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?

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