Who can apply to MS 839?

Any 5th grader who attends a District 15 elementary school or resides in District 15 can apply. If you do not meet at least one of those criteria, MS 839 will not show up on your middle school application and you will not be able to apply.

How does the lottery work?

Essentially there are two separate lotteries, one for general education (84 seats) and one for special education students (24 seats). Within each of those lotteries, 40% of the available seats are set aside for students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch. Eligibility for the free and reduced price lunch seats is determined by the lunch form each family is required to submit.  

In order to enter the lottery, simply rank us on your application. There is no additional step. You do not receive preference by ranking us higher, and we do not see your ranking.

The lottery assigns each family a unique random number. The student with the lowest number gets first preference. You will only match to MS 839 if you did not match to a school that you ranked higher on your application.

Do you accept work samples, letters of recommendation, or other supplementary material?


How hard is it to get in?

We anticipate at least 500 students will rank us in their top 3 choices, and about 1200 students will rank us somewhere on their application. So while admissions is certainly competitive, the odds are reasonable.

Can you tell us about Arts and Languages at MS 839?

We believe that all students benefit from a broad exposure to arts and language at MS 839. In 6th and 7th grades, students experience a quarterly rotation of Music, Visual Art, Theater, and French, for 6 periods a week. In 8th grade, students choose an advanced study course that meets 6 periods a week. In addition to this, students have a mixed 6-7-8th grade elective course 2 periods per week. This year, these have included photography, film-making, animal behavior field study, guitar, math team, among many others.

What does a sample schedule look like?  

* Arts Rotation is a quarterly cycle of French, Visual Arts, Music, and Theater

How do you deal with challenging behavior?  

MS 839 embraces a student centered, relationship building, and restorative philosophy towards challenging behavior, within the context of the Chancellor’s City Wide Behavioral Expectations. While no exact situation is alike, we use a combination of collaborative problem solving, meditations (peer and adult led), restorative circles, and conferencing to approach difficult behavior. We are painfully aware of an individual school’s place in the school to prison pipeline, and we therefore monitor our data to ensure all students are being treated equitably.

What special education services are available? 

We provide all services based on students IEPs. Currently we have 2 ICT classes (out of 4 per grade) a SETSS program, OT, PT, and speech therapy on site.

Special education busing is available only to students whose IEP requires door to door busing.

How do you challenge advanced students in an unscreened school?

We believe that our approach to interdisciplinary and project based learning creates opportunities to challenge all students across achievement levels. We call these “low floor, high ceiling” projects. Simply put, this means that the problems and projects have an entry point for all students, but are not limited in how far they can be taken.

We also now have the data to prove that our students who enter achieving at a high level continue to progress. In our class of 2018 cohort, students who entered reading at a 10th grade level made on average 2.5 years of progress over the course of 2 years. This is remarkable considering they were already achieving at a high level.

Middle school is a really difficult time for students. How do you support students through this time?

At MS 839, every child is part of a Crew. Crews meet 3 periods a week with one crew leader in a group of about 12 students. Crew is the home base for social and emotional support, family and school connection, and academic progress monitoring.

What supports are available for struggling learners?

We have 2 ICT classes, with 2 teachers in the room in all academic classes. We also have a part-time SETSS program. All of our reading periods are co-taught to ensure all students have detailed reading support, regardless of their reading level.

In addition to a regular math class, 6th and 7th graders take 2 periods a week of a math lab, designed to build skills and supplement the regular math course.

When students get older, are there opportunities for advances studies?

Currently, students have the option to take an 8th grade advanced study in the following courses: Algebra, Visual Art, Theater, Music, and Debate.

Do you offer Regents courses?

All students take Algebra in 8th grade. The course prepares students to take the Common Core Algebra Regents should they and their family choose to.

We do not offer a Regents science course because we believe it would not provide the type of authentic, inquiry based science that 8th graders need to grow as scientists.

Are there other electives, clubs, or after school options for students?

We currently offer a French Club, Soccer Team, Basketball Team, Volleyball Team, Slam Poetry Club, and Cross Country Club.

What are your hours?

9:00 am-3:20 pm

Do you have a before school program?

We have early drop off, sports, and breakfast program open between 8:00am and 8:40am.

Do you have an after school program? 

Our after school partner, Roads to Success, operates a free program daily from 3:20 pm-6:00 pm, as well as additional programs during school breaks.

Are students allowed out to lunch? 

We do not have off campus lunch, as the traffic in the area is far too dangerous. Students have recess every day.

Tell me about sports!

We have a budding sports program. Currently we have soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams that are beginning to compete against other schools in league play.

Do you go on any adventure or overnight retreats? 

We do a yearly high ropes or backpacking overnight retreat for every grade.

How do you handle high school admissions?

We have a comprehensive high school counseling program. It starts in Crew, expands to high school visits, and works with families throughout the fall. Check out the high school resources tab for an inside peek.

How do students get to and from school? 

We do not offer busing. Almost all students travel in small groups along the various trains and buses. Metrocards are provided to students who qualify based on the distance they live from the school.