Mission & Overview

The ESMS Tiger mascot

East Side Middle School's goal is to help our students experience life in their ideal educational community.

The East Side Middle School staff is dedicated to creating a community of rigorous learning and inquiry through an intensive study of mathematics (Algebra I Regents in 8th Grade); earth, life and physical science; Spanish and humanities (including history, social studies, all forms of literature, and both fiction and non-fiction writing). We also offer rich dance and visual arts programming in order to create a school environment in which our students can pursue their talents, dreams and ambitions - their "element." Currently, we end each week with an Elective period, where students choose from a full range of options from knitting to wiffle ball to ukulele.

As a school, we prioritize mental health and the emotional well-being of our students, offering courses in emotional literacy, resilience, sex ed, anti-bullying and anti-bias. Guest experts from outside organizations have worked with our students on healthy relationships, mental health awareness and more. We reinforce staying physically healthy as well, with a thriving physical education/fitness program and a wide variety of team sports and movement opportunities traditionally available after school.

Staff at ESMS are dedicated to the academic success of all our students. Special education and general ed teachers have collaborated to create an enhanced, unified academic program for all our learners. All students may attend extra help sessions with their teachers on specific days before or during the school day.

Finally, a great emphasis at ESMS is placed on creating an environment that encourages students to develop their leadership skills and their ability to organize each other to accomplish their goals of improving their school, community, city and beyond.

Here are a few articles and short videos that help explain our philosophy:
How to Help Every Child Fulfill Their Potential (video: Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset)
Do Schools Kill Creativity? (video: Sir Ken Robinson)
Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail (Article: What happens to students who aren't allowed to suffer through setbacks.)
Don't Help Your Kids with Their Homework (Article: Insights from a ground-breaking study of how parents impact children’s academic achievement)


Some of our larger clubs meet at lunchtime each week, including:

Student Council – Representatives from every homeroom discuss issues important to them and join committees involved in anti-hunger and mental health campaigns and other community service activities.

The Tiger Times – Students write, research and edit our virtual monthly newspaper

Helping Homeless Women Committee – This group works with local organizations that help our unhoused and food insecure community members.

GSA/Gender Sexuality Alliance – LGBTQ+ students and their allies meet to raise awareness and lend support

Big Buddies – Run by 7th & 8th grade students, this group pairs upper grade mentors with one or more 6thgrade buddies to help them virtually meet classmates from outside their homerooms and have some fun while thy get familiar with ESMS and build a community here. The Bigs often do some homework support as needed, too. 

There are smaller groups that meet before and during school, like Rocket Club, Poetry Club, Short Story Club and Jazz Club – kids are always coming up with new ideas!


Afterschool is free for all students and is run by an outside organization, called Manhattan Youth. They offer a schedule of creative and athletic activities that change each trimester, as well as a daily session of Homework Help all year long. Sessions run from 3:20-4:30pm and 4:30-5:45pm, and their scope has evolved along with school re-opening guidelines and regulations. esms.org/afterschool_program_information

Over the years, we have had prize-winning Debate & Model UN teams, and athletic champs of all sorts. Our JV and V sports teams compete in the MSAL/Middle School Athletic League. For Fall/Winter 2021, we fielded teams in Boys and Girls Soccer, Co-Ed Flag Football and Girls Volleyball. (Our boys soccer team won NY City Championships and two of our girls were on the Uptown team that won the All Star game; volleyball made it to the postseason as well.)  Boys and Girls Basketball and Co-Ed Table Tennis will be our winter sports. Manhattan Youth does offer some skills-based athletic activities that are not tryout-based.


All families are encouraged to be involved with the school by attending PTA meetings, running for seats on the School Leadership Team or PTA Board, or just helping out or attending in-person functions when you can.