Horace Greeley High School’s Mathematics Department is a semi-autonomous entity within the school, says Department Chairman Michael Frengs. “The board is content to let the math department run the math department,” he explains. With input from consultants, “we created our own tests and guidelines. We don’t have to teach to the test.”
It’s working: Consistently excellent SAT, Regents Examination, and Math Competition scores are the norm for the Chappaqua school, which also earns a high slot on U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of top American high schools for math and science.
A strong math background is crucial in fields like engineering, aerospace technology, marine biology, and computer science. But studying math also instills habits like persistence, cooperation, and collaboration; thinking deeply and supporting that thinking; developing problem-solving skills and ways to apply them; and rephrasing problems to approach them in a new way.
The school has a program to bring lagging students up to speed. “We’re very proud not just of our high end, but of those who struggle. We help them succeed at Greeley and help them move on.” Many grads have told Frengs that college-level math and science requirements “are not a hurdle. They see kids from other schools struggle in the same courses, but those who finish our program get good grades and are well-prepared to do whatever they want to do.”
Frengs estimates that about 15 to 20 percent of Greeley grads major in math and science in college, many in the Ivy League and at well-regarded schools like MIT, Emory University, and Stanford University.