Aspire Prep boasts advanced math success

Math teacher Kevin Martin (kneeling on right) joins with his class, Parent Coordinator Irene Estrada Rukaj (center) and Spanish teacher Doris Raxon (far left) in celebrating the success of Aspire Preparatory Middle School. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

For decades prior to the creation of the Department of Education by Mayor Bloomberg and New York State, students from far and wide came to the Pelham Parkway area for its superior schools, and today that tradition continues.

Aspire Preparatory Middle School, located at 2441 Wallace Avenue, is now boasting about its excellent math programs that give students the opportunity to take math classes in the seventh and eighth grades that are two years advanced.

In teacher Kevin Martin’s math classes, students are getting a head start on their high school courses by learning the equivalent of ninth and tenth grade mathematics, getting NYS Regents credit in most cases.

“It feels good to know things that most people your age don’t really know, and you feel ahead of your time,” said student Anna Stanislous. “I feel that when we move onto high school we will still be on top of things because we will be able to take math classes that juniors and seniors take.”

While some feel that students should not be pushed to take courses beyond their grade level, the quality of teachers at Aspire provide the students the ability to take on extra challenges.

“Our teachers want us not only to pass but to excel,” said student Alejandro Quesada. “We have teachers who do not allow us to fail.”

With test scores at the school, which shares a building with three other middle schools and has approximately 550 students in grades six through eight, up it is now time to celebrate. The teachers and the parent coordinator, Irene Estrada Rukaj can proudly boast of the success of the students.

“What makes Aspire different from other schools I have worked at is that there are more fellowship among the staff and a willingness for cross-curriculum discussion among the departments,” said fourth-year teacher Aaron Kinney. “While our principal thinks test scores are important, he is as interested in test results as he is in having the students think on their own. He thinks it important to create well-rounded students, and believes we have more of an obligation the students as persons than to spreadsheets of statistics.”

And the students at Aspire appreciate the caring from the administration on down.

“I can say that the teachers and principals have a real desire to have the students achieve something,” said student Emina Rama.

“I think most of the teachers at Aspire understand our needs as people and try to work with us. They joke around, but when it is time to be serious we work.”

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