Science and Technology Academy: A Mott Hall School
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International Baccalaureate program
Far from bus stops
At Science and Technology Academy: A Mott Hall School, students benefit from rich instruction and a lot of after-school activities. It is the only stand-alone middle school in the city with an International Baccalaureate certified program, which offers class discussions, thoughtful research papers and imaginative courses. The International Baccalaureate introduces students to different ways of thinking that help them succeed in a global economy, teachers say.
At first glance, the school seems quite formal, with students in uniforms walking in two rows to classical music as they move from class to class. However, it doesn’t take long to see the warm relationships that exist between staff and the principal and the principal and the students. Patrick Awosogba, the founding principal, is also nicknamed "The Preacher" by some students due to the long chats he has to help guide them in the right direction.
In all grades, teachers follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which emphasizes skills such as communication, social and self-management, research and analytical thinking. Instead of traditional English and social studies classes, students take courses such as Latin, philosophy and “Language & Literature.”
In a class called "Individual and Societies" students asked “What is a civilization?” The teachers took the time to clarify questions and allow students to repeat in their own words. Students collaborated in groups confidently sharing their opinions with textual support and elaborated on feedback of peers. Everyone shared the floor in a respectful manner.
The school has a good record of challenging stronger students while raising the achievement of those arriving with weak skills. Half of all 6th graders enter with skills that are well below grade level but most have caught up by 8th grade. Staff credit their success to the "systems and structures" they set up for students to follow. “It takes 4 to 5 months for a 6th grader to adjust to middle school responsibilities," says Awaosogba. To help them, the school provides each incoming student with an advisor. By the end of 8th grade, students are taking the Algebra and Earth Science Regents.
The school offers support for students who are learning English. In one 7th grade class, we saw students read in English, then pair up and speak to a partner in Spanish. After, everyone checked back in to share their thoughts in English with the class.
After-school activities, which include sports, arts and technology offerings run by the Sports and Arts Foundation. The school also provides homework help and academic support sessions after school and on Saturdays. There are basketball and baseball teams that compete with other middle schools. They invite small, academic based high school come, speak to the students, and support those interested in specialized high schools admissions by providing test prep. Some graduates have been admitted to Bronx High School of Science and to Bard High School Early College.
Daily attendance falls slightly below the citywide average; however, it exceeds that of District 9. The teacher attendance is also high, indicating a space where both students and staff enjoy coming.
A downside: The school is several blocks from the nearest bus stops.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: ICT & self-contained on each grade. We saw a self-contained class learning the same curriculum, with the teacher using the same language, but given more time to understand the process and think through the answer. Participation was as strong as the general ed classes.
ADMISSIONS: Open to students and residents of Districts 9 and 10 with priority to those residing in the schools zone. There are weekly open houses in the fall. (Jacqueline Wayans, November 2017).