Dobb’s Ferry’s The Masters School Focuses on an Integrative Math Education

The approach includes more complex elements of math into business, finance and economics education, and teachers rely on the Harkness method to increase classroom communication.



Much of the math education at the private Masters School in Dobbs Ferry revolves around interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration.

photo by John Chiodo

The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry takes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching mathematics, integrating math across subjects such as business, finance, and economics. “Our students learn how to start and run a business, they learn how money gets moved around in the finance markets, they learn the flow of money and how quickly it can change,” says Sheldon Perlysky, chairman of this private school’s math department.

The instructors strive to instill confidence in students who have been frustrated or disappointed in their earlier attempts at learning the subject. The goal is for all students, from the very strong to the less able, to understand how math applies to daily life. “Our teaching is discussion-based, project-based, and discovery-based, so students can see the relevance of mathematics in the real world,” Perlysky says.

Classes are taught following the Harkness method, in which students and teachers usually assemble around an oval table. The seating arrangement lends itself to open discussions as well as to working in pairs or small groups.

Other teaching tools include the online Stock Market Tournament, in which students “invest” play money in the market, then track the ups and downs of their stock choices; Zetetics, an academic-enrichment club that includes teams for problem solving, math challenges, robotics, computer-aided design, engineering, and more—and the Math Olympiad. The Masters team recently scored a School Certificate of Merit in the American Mathematics Competition, the highest rating of any of Westchester high school.

Masters graduates have been accepted at colleges and universities such as MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Ivy League schools.

Also Distinguished: Byram Hills High School in Armonk, Edgemont Jr/Sr High School, Fox Lane High School in Bedford, Hackley School in Tarrytown, Keio Academy of New York in Purchase, Rye High School, Rye Country Day School, and Scarsdale High School  

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