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Mount Vernon School Officials Outline 'High Schools Of Choice'

Mount Vernon Schools Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton addressing the Board of Education and community.
Mount Vernon Schools Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton addressing the Board of Education and community. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - As part of Mount Vernon Schools Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton’s “20/20 Vision,” the district has announced an update regarding its “three schools of choice.”

Hamilton began a true rebuild of the school in 2016, following the approval of a “historic” $108 million bond referendum by taxpayers which is allowing for an overhaul of infrastructure and a transition from a traditional “K-8” education model that will emphasize early childhood.

In November, Hamilton’s contract was extended and the educator was given an extra year to continue his transformation of the school district, which has seen students’ proficiency rate on the ELA rise from 12 percent to 28 percent, while math score are up 15 percent since he took over.

According to officials, the district’s school restructuring efforts, alongside the district’s facilities and grounds improvements, will create new opportunities for students and transform public education in Mount Vernon. District administrators have researched and customized these efforts to fit the city’s demographics and the district’s needs.

Part of that transformation includes the creation of three, theme-based high schools of choice: STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics), the Thornton School for the Performing and Visual Arts and the Mount Vernon High School. Each will “ have unparalleled academic preparation for college and opportunities to be successful members of the 21st Century workforce.”

The STEAM High School, which is currently A.B. Davis Middle School, “will provide an approach to teaching and learning that integrates the content and skills of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. STEAM High School will actively engage students in a collaborative, learning environment while infusing an integrated STEAM-centered curriculum in their studies through project-based learning. These behaviors include engagement in inquiry, logical reasoning, collaboration, and investigation.”

The Thornton School, which is currently Nellie Thornton High School “will build on its existing success in the arts field. Students will transfer their creative skills to the classrooms to build and support the cognitive framework and effective mindset necessary to nurture strong readers, mathematicians, thinkers and learners.”

The Mount Vernon High School “will provide a rigorous and comprehensive high school curriculum featuring a heavy emphasis on humanities, career and technical programs.”

Additionally, there will be full implementation of a full-day pre-kindergarten program and the creation of pre-K through eighth-grade schools, “which eliminates the need for a middle school building. This will ensure continuity of care and instruction for students. There is a substantial evidence of the benefit of this configuration to the success and retention of students.”

“It is virtually impossible for our schools not to progress with the full implementation of the 20/20 Vision,” Hamilton told the board. “It is a collection of best practices from national models that will ensure students are well prepared for college and the workforce. We have done a tremendous amount of work with setting the framework and foundation. It is now time for the community to expand its collaboration to guarantee the successful transformation of the Mount Vernon City School District.”

Complete details of the transformation from the school district can be found here.

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