PRINCIPAL'S MESSAGE: Week of November 2, 2019


Week of November 2, 2019

Dear Mott Hall Families,

Thank you for joining us for Parent Conferences on Thursday.  The conferences were well attended and provided parents and teachers the opportunity to discuss student academic performance and supports.

We are now in our 2nd Marking Period.  We ask that you continue to monitor your child’s academic progress on Pupil Path.  Use this tool to communicate with teachers.  We offer tutoring during lunch, homework help with afterschool program and will begin a tutoring and Saturday Academy in a few weeks.

This week opens our season of giving.  We need your support in our Canned Food Drive.  Have your child bring in a 1 can of food to donate to our Annual Canned Food Drive between Nov. 8 - Nov. 22.

A special Thank You to our Veterans on November 11, 2019; we thank you for your service and ultimate sacrifice.

We will kick-off our Breakfast with the Principal Series on Friday, November 15, 2019.  Parents will have the opportunity to meet with the principal to discuss goals, initiatives and discuss suggestions.  Please join us!

Do not miss our November PTA Meeting scheduled for November 20, 2019 at 6 p.m.  Your participation makes the difference!

A special recognition to all Honor Roll Scholars!  Congratulations!  We are so proud of your achievement. 

Have a wonderful week!

In your gratitude,

Principal De Los Santos




































Chess in the Schools fosters the intellectual and social development of  youth through chess education.  For more than 30 years, Chess in the Schools has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of students in low-income New York City public schools. We use chess to teach critical thinking, problem solving and the mental discipline needed to succeed in school and in life.






If you happen to walk past the quiet Convent Avenue at the intersection with 131st Street on certain afternoons, you may hear, through the thick walls of a building that once used to be a convent, the unmistakable sound of an orchestra at work. It is the sound of the Mott Hall School orchestra.

But don’t let the thickness of those walls fool you. The Mott Hall, a public middle school located at the heart of West Harlem, adjacent to the City College campus, has a strong bond with the community it belongs to and fosters community partnerships as a way to enrich the education of its student body. “This is a school without walls,” stresses Judith De Los Santos-Peña, the school principal since 2015.

Since 1985, the Mott Hall has been providing rigorous instruction to high-achieving students, mostly from Harlem and Northern Manhattan. Admission to the school is competitive and it includes an exam and an interview. Even though the school is famed for its focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), De Los Santos-Peña is committed to making the arts a key element of the school curriculum.

“The children see themselves as mathematicians and scientists. We want them to also see themselves as artists,” said De Los Santos-Peña, noting that The Mott Hall is transitioning from STEM to STEAM school, the initial for “Art” added to the acronym. She firmly believes that enrichment is done collectively and is only possible through partnerships with other organizations.

One such organization, the Multicultural Music Group (MMG), is a not-for-profit that has been a partner to the Mott Hall School for almost fifteen years. The MMG is responsible for the music that fills in the school corridors and beyond, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

Luis Mojica, the executive director of the MMG, founded the organization in 1996, as a response to the need of multicultural representation in school music programs. MMG seeks to connect the ethnical and culturally diverse students of New York City public schools with their musical and historical roots.

The partnership between MMG and the Mott Hall is going well and growing. Today, the school band has 25 children, 5 woodwinds, 5 brass, 10 strings, and 5 percussions. For each group of instruments, there is an instructor that works closely with the players.


Jim Piela, a saxophonist, is one of the instructors that twice a week helps the band members at the Mott Hall hone their music skills.

Piela moved to New York to pursue a career as a jazz musician. Determination has paid off for the 32-year-old Wisconsin-native. Piela, besides working with the MMG, is a member of several jazz music groups, and plays a variety of rhythms, at venues all over his adoptive city. “I have been a professional musician for over a decade,” he says proudly.

28-year-old Timofei “Timo” Rosales is an alumnus of the MMG after-school program and a cello player. Through his mother, who is also a musician, he joined the group first as a high school student, and some years later as an instructor. Today, and for the past two years, Rosales is the director of the Mott Hall orchestra. He is elated at the children’s feedback. “Kids like the interactions with other students and making music together,” he says.

Guided by a dedicated group of adult musicians, the true stars of the after-school Mott Hall orchestra are the kids in the band. Among them is Daniela Toribio, a 12-year-old, now in her second year as a member of the band. The 7th grader got her motivation to join the band from her father, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, who plays percussion. Following on her father’s footsteps, she plays the congas with the band. And she loves every bit of it.

Daniela says that music reflects one’s mood and recognizes that, in order to get the right sound, the artist needs to be inspired and full of positive energy. “If you feel like, I got this, it sounds good,” she says with a wide smile on her face.

Aali Garcia, a 13-year-old, plays the alto saxophone in the band. A jazz lover, Aali says that the after-school music program granted her an opportunity that she had not had before. “And you get to choose your instrument,” she rejoices.

The group of adults that works with these young musicians has nothing but words of praise toward the band members. Delca Ortiz, the coordinator of programs and bilingual guidance counselor at the Mott Hall, says that the children at the school in general, and the kids in the band in particular are truly special.

“The children have enthusiasm for the arts like you don’t see in other places,” insists Ortiz, who has come out of retirement to join the Mott Hall in her current role.

Instructor Piela couldn’t agree more.

“They [the children] are extremely easy to work with. Hopefully, we are inspiring them to do their best and be curious about music,” he says.


For more information, go to


     The girl's soccer team was selected to take part at this weekend's Glamour Conference where women, from different sports concentrations, were honored. Mia, a 6th grader at Mott Hall, was mentioned in the article attached below and she performed a special poem for the woman of the year. It was fantastic and everyone gave her a standing ovation.   


The goal of the Mott Hall School’s curriculum is the development of skilled students who are self-directed critical thinkers.


Young Scholars

Mott Hall students are considered young scholars. They learn subject matter through a constructivist and project-based approach using powerful learning techniques such as Socratic dialogues, literature circles, writing for student publications, digital film making and web site creation.

The curriculum is further enriched by its alignment to the Common Core NationalStandards. Students are offered accelerated special courses and seminars as well as special enrichment electives such as chess, robotics and stock market studies which engage them in real world investigations tied directly to student needs and interests.


Mott Hall has a technology rich environment. In an effort to confront the digital divide, we use the PupilPath online system to give       parents and students instant access to grades, attendance, and progress reports. 



  • Awarded National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education, No Child Left Behind Act
  • New York State Reward School 2012-2016
  • National Dance Institute Program  for 25 years
  • Urban Advantage Science Partners
  • Street Projects
  • City College of New York Partnership
      • School of Science 
      • School of Engineering 
      • School of Architecture
      • AAron Davis Film Series
  • NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
  • Math Counts Contest

Meet the Mott Hall Community

Advanced Studies In Mathematics, Science, and Technology

Judith De Los Santos-Peña, Principal