Department descriptions

Scholars have the opportunity to function as artists and actors, as well as learners of the arts. The goal of the art department is to develop our scholar’s knowledge of arts and art disciplines, skills in those disciplines, creative thinking, and responses to the art around them. Mott Hall scholars receive both visual and performing arts classes each year of the MYP programme. Heightened awareness of creative thinking helps our scholars to develop their self-reflection skills in all classes and become more self-regulated learners. Across both visual art and theatre classes, scholars will track their progress, explore new ways of thinking, and reflect on their work in their IB process journal.

Visual art has contributed to all societies and cultures throughout time. Visual arts classes give scholars the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of cultures from around the world. By the end of Year 3, scholars will have studied at least one unit from a culture on every continent as they increase the depth and range of their artistic abilities. In the visual arts classroom, scholars will experience a variety of traditional and modern art-making processes including digital art/photography, printmaking, drawing, tie-dye and batik, painting, sculpture, and textile arts. Over the course of three years at Mott Hall, visual arts scholars will develop a portfolio of their best artwork to demonstrate their increased knowledge and skill development.

In theater arts classes, students learn to value and develop the power of storytelling.  We engage scholars through active and student-centered learning.  Theater arts classes focus on four specific domains: collaborating in an ensemble, playwriting, acting and theater design.  Through collaborative project-based activities, scholars develop both communication skills and creativity.  Students regularly reflect on their progress in order to cultivate a deep understanding of the artistic process.  Theater arts provides students with unique opportunities to improve literacy through memorizing text, performing stories and embodying characters.  Ultimately, theater arts leads to self-discovery and empowers scholars to tell their own unique stories.  

Art Department Faculty:

  • Ms. Leah Clark (Visual Arts)
  • Mr. Eric Hoffman (Performing Arts)
  • Dr. Mia Jorgensen (Visual and Performing Arts)

In order to assist our students’ development into well-rounded, global citizens, we seek to push them to understand and explore issues around the world, both in the past and present. Throughout their years at Mott Hall students develop an understanding of various cultures, including the evolution of American culture, and ancient societies. In order to facilitate the development of content knowledge, we utilize Common Core Learning Standards that are aligned with Language and Literature in order to foster student learning and exploration about historical content as well as to assist students in the development of writing skills and making meaning from informational texts.

Our IB objectives focus on the development of content knowledge, communication skills, both verbally and written, critical thinking skills, and research skills. Students explore content through many formats, including texts, images, political cartoons, documentaries, and other forms of multimedia. Students are tasked with developing well-written arguments supported with evidence and through connections. Furthermore, students develop their communication skills through the use of various discussion styles, including Socratic seminars, informal discussions, and philosophical chairs.

Year 1 of the Individuals and Societies curriculum covers the ancient worlds and the development of civilizations around the world. We will complete an Interdisciplinary unit with Visual Arts when studying West African culture.  The Year 2 curriculum covers the beginnings of America, including Native American tribes, colonization, revolution, and the creation of our modern government. Finally, in Year 3, students develop an understanding of America and American culture from the Industrial Era, up to World War II. We will complete an interdisciplinary unit with Performing Arts when studying the Great Depression.  Through this content, some of the big ideas students examine the included change, causality, power, equity, and perspective.

The Individuals and Societies content team is comprised of:

  • 6th Grade: Ms. Christian, 4th year teaching
  • 6th Grade: Dr. Jorgenson  6th year teaching
  • 7th Grade: Ms. Olivio, 12th year teaching
  • 8th Grade: Ms. Allen,  7th  year teaching
  • 8th Grade: Ms. Patrick, 2nd  years teaching

At Mott Hall the language acquisition department goal is to provide our students with the ability to communicate another language as well as contributing to mother tongue maintenance. Moreover, we aim to promote a broad understanding of the different cultures and their perspectives within the global context. We support students’ literacy development by aligning language learning with common state benchmarks.

In our department we value students’ identity and cultural heritage.  We focus our language learning around units that foster culture and heritage development as we discuss topics of common global interest.

The Latin program aims to develop students’ proficiency in Latin while helping them make connections between ancient Roman civilization and the modern world.  Students practice advanced literacy skills by reading and analyzing short Latin texts.  We help students learn to use Latin roots to understand high-level English vocabulary.

In the past three years and going forward Language Acquisition: Spanish has focused on the following themes in our units of study:

  • Mis amigos y yo
  • La escuela
  • La comida
  • Los pasatiempos
  • Fiesta en familia
  • La casa
  • De compras
  • Experiencias
  • Medios de comunicación

Language Acquisition: Latin focuses on the following themes:

  • Greek and Roman mythology
  • Roman cities
  • Daily life in ancient Rome
  • Roman families
  • Ancient theater
  • English vocabulary building through Latin roots

The language and literature department aims to provide our students with a balanced exposure to a variety of literature and writing tasks to make them lifelong learners. Over the course of three years in our school, students read “The Lightning Thief,” “A Long Walk to Water,” “Inside Out & Back Again,” “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “Fences.” Scholars also practice writing in a range of genres, such as informational and persuasive essays, poetry, personal narratives, and short stories. 

With literature as a platform, students make connections to a diversity of disciplines, cultures, and global situations that have a past and present impact on themselves and others. Those connections include the refugee experience, immigration issues, and global water issues. Interdisciplinary connections ask students to consider, for example, the history of subjects like the global movement of people and cultures.  This combination of varied literature and diverse approaches to subject matter allow students to develop an understanding of big ideas like interpreting and inheriting history (Fences), that there are many ways of communicating and using language (Lightning Thief), and that a life’s journey begins one step at a time (A Long Walk to Water).

Faculty from the language and literature department include:

  • Ms. Bazan:
  • Ms. Castro: 10 years teaching experience (5 M.S., 5 E.M.)
  • Mr. Connors:
  • Ms. Hernandez:
  • Ms. Kingsbury:
  • Mr. Leblanc: 8 years teaching experience (8 M.S.)
  • Mr. Moore:
  • Ms. Otomo: 6 years teaching experience (5 M.S., 1 H.S.)
  • Ms. Patrick: 2 years teaching experience (1 M.S., 1 H.S.)
  • Ms. Ruiz: 11 years teaching experience (7 M.S., 4 E.S.)

Through the IB MYP in Math, students will develop the ability to understand and apply appropriate math content and processes to solve particular problems, investigate and describe patterns, communicate mathematical lines of reasoning using appropriate mathematical language in different forms of representation and apply mathematics to real-life contexts.

In Grade 6, students will focus on (1) connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; (2) completing understanding of division of fractions and extending the notion of number to the system of rational numbers, which includes negative numbers; (3) writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations; and (4) developing understanding of statistical thinking.

In Grade 7, students will focus on: (1) developing understanding of and applying proportional relationships; (2) developing understanding of operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations; (3) solving problems involving scale drawings and informal geometric constructions, and working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume; and (4) drawing inferences about populations based on samples.

In Grade 8, students will focus on: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.

Through the Math, MYP students develop skills that support progress and understanding in other content areas. Students will master problem-solving skills that can be used to approach unfamiliar tasks by identifying key language and processes, increase knowledge of number sense and relationships to better understand scientific principles, transfer their logical and reasoning skills to better developing and organizing essays.

Math Department Faculty:


  • Ms. Calder: 7th-grade math teacher entering her 3rd year of teaching.
  • Mr. Clager: 6th-grade math teacher.  It is his first year at Mott Hall, and his second year teaching middle school.
  • Ms. Clarke: 8th-grade math entering her 8th year of teaching at Mott Hall.
  • Mr. Kantor: 7th-grade Mathematics teacher who has been teaching for 5 years at Mott hall, and currently on his 6th year. He is also the point person for Engrade-Pro and STARS/report cards.
  • Mr. Marino: 6th grade math teacher starting his first year teaching at Mott Hall Science and Technology. He is a member of the New York City Teaching Collaborative.
  • Ms. Martinez: 8th-grade math teacher starting the first year of teaching at Mott Hall Science and Technology.
  • Ms. Siegel: 8th-grade math teacher entering the 8th year of teaching, 5 of which have been at Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy.

Physical Education and Health foster the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will contribute to a student’s balanced and healthy lifestyle. Through various opportunities for active learning, courses in this subject will promote the holistic nature of well-being. Physical Education taken during the secondary education encourages psychomotor learning in play and movement to promote healthy choices and promote good peer relations.

Through Physical and Health education students learn to respect the ideas of others and develop effective collaboration and communication skills. Students will also be able to build positive interpersonal relationships that can help a student develop a sense of social responsibility.

Students will have the opportunity to meet the MYP objectives through a high-energy, balanced curriculum. Year 1 students will be introduced to health-related knowledge such as nutrition, training methods and principles, healthy lifestyle choices, NYC Fitnessgram, and cooperative games. Year 2 students will work on aesthetic movements such as martial arts, NYC Fitnessgram, fitness training, aerobics, team sports, and building on their knowledge of nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. Year 3 students will be working on NYC Fitnessgram, going more in-depth with team sports, such as speedball, basketball, lacrosse and including the history of the sport that will tie to cultural experiences.

The physical education faculty includes:

  • 6-7th Grade: Mr. Kazolias
  • 8th Grade: Mr. Goffman

In the Mott Hall Science Department, our goal is to prepare every student to excel in the sciences at top high schools and to become scientifically literate citizens of the world. To achieve this, our department is guided by three sets of standards: the content-centered New York State Science Standards, and the more conceptual and global Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and International Baccalaureate (IB) Sciences framework. Although our success is measured by student performance on standardized tests, particularly the New York State Intermediate-Level Science exam given at the end of 8th grade, we are academically and morally committed to teaching beyond such tests. Thus, while we assess student understanding and mastery through traditional measures—such as tests, quizzes, science notebooks and labs—we also assess achievement through creative and practical formative and summative tasks. On a weekly basis, and as the culmination of each unit, students explore real-world problems by applying their knowledge of science concepts and skills to design, evaluate, and reflect on scientific solutions. The end-of-unit projects, in particular, provide some of our students’ proudest moments and reveal the highest levels of thinking.

Big Ideas in Science and Design

As an IB school, we are focused on the cross-cutting concepts and big ideas in science. In each grade, students expand and diversify their thinking at different levels of scale, from the behavior of fundamental particles in 6th grade, to the shifting of continents in 7th grade, to the sun, moon, and planets of the solar system in 8th grade. Students also learn how relationships between components in a system give rise to its higher-level functions, such as living ecosystems in 6th grade, the human body in 7th grade, or changes in population through genetics and evolution in 8th grade.

What sets the Mott Hall Science Department apart is our focus on modeling. Students learn science best by doing science; as a result, students are constantly creating models —  that is, representations of phenomena that can be used to explain or predict. Models can be as simple as a particle diagram or a food web. However, students are more often building physical, 3-D models of phenomena ranging from cells to plate boundaries, or creating and explaining mathematical or graphical models, such as those describing population changes or the physical forces acting on a car. By building their own models and making discoveries for themselves, our students learn that science is an ongoing process of exploration and revision that enriches their understanding of the everyday world.

Modeling Instruction

In order for students to be prepared for the rigors of high school, college, and beyond, we work to build and practice several important science skills. We use a pedagogical approach to building these skills called “modeling instruction,” in which students create, test, and apply models through inquiry-based activities, then evaluate and learn from each other’s work. This takes place primarily through class-wide discussions and presentations called “board meetings,” in which students create a whiteboard with information displayed both graphically and in writing. To prepare for these board meetings, students conduct experiments, analyze data, and create models. By 8th grade, students will be able to design their own experiment in order to collect and analyze the data which they will use to explain a scientific phenomenon. This complex skill requires mastery of many smaller skills, such as measuring with a variety of tools, graphing, writing, designing experiments and tests, making evidence-based claims, and communicating and collaborating within a group. These skills are not only useful at Mott Hall, but empower students to understand themselves and their world.

Mr. Markowitz and Mrs. King – 6th Grade Science

Mr. Hall and Ms. Olivo – 7th Grade Science

When teaching students of all ethnicities, it is important for them to understand where their place in the world contributes to what they learn and how they can use what they learn to gain deeper understandings of the world around them.  When students learn about science, sometimes this is where the disconnect occurs. In 7th grade science, students learn not only how to converse with each other using scientific vocabulary but also how to think critically and not just for the purpose of finding “the right answer”. Students need to learn that the process through which you learn new topics is just as important as finding the answer. Many of the learning experiences are conceptual because getting students to think and find multiple ways to answer a question is important.

Using the experiences of the students is the best way to increase engagement because it shows that you are not only working to understand how they think but also why they think the way they do. The adolescent brain is very plastic and the experiences they receive at this age can either increase interest in the sciences or completely turn them off. Science should be used to open student’s eyes to multiple scenarios and experiences they might not be able to get anywhere else. Why just teach the content when you can teach it in a way that resonates with the students? Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) means you infuse aspects of the students culture into your lessons in a way that is authentic.

Who does not learn best when they can actually see how the items looks, works, and feels? The science team using modeling not only helps teachers, but helps students express themselves in methods that makes sense to them. Whether they are learning about plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, or chemistry, models help students see the unseeable and sometimes the unthinkable. Since students have the freedom to express themselves how they see fit when making design projects, they feel more ownership and responsibility over their end products. The modeling concept helps to foster an environment of trust and rigor that makes science practical and tangible.

Ms. Davison and Mr. Davenport – 8th Grade Science and Design

Ms. Davison’s background is in international relations and the “bench” sciences — chemistry and physics. She could tell you what she did before teaching but then she’d have to kill you.  She is also very well versed in education technology and tries to bring in cool new tech into the science and design classroom as much as possible. If you have STEM project you want to try out — like using the 3-D printer — she is the person to ask.

Mr. Peter Davenport’s background in journalism and outdoor education. His background as a news editor helps push students thinking and writing; his work as an outdoor educator grounded him in the “life” sciences of ecology and biology. Mr. Davenport is also the founder of Mott Hall’s Explorer’s Club, which introduces a new generation of inquirers to New York City’s natural and cultural wonders. Curious about a bug or plant? Ask Davenport.

Together Ms. Davison and Mr. Davenport form the perfect team to teach the epic and exciting 8th grade science curriculum. Our units are framed as debatable questions because science embraces questions. The year begins with the life sciences: first, Genetics and the question “Who am I?”, followed by Evolution and the larger-scale question “How did we get here?” From there we transition to the physical sciences, where we explore Forces & Motion with the question “Why do things move?” and Astronomy with the question “Where are we?” We end the year by asking “What’s our future?”as students inquire about Human Impacts on the planet.