Nov. 8, 2004  How Smart is AP?

It's 8:30 in the morning, and the day is cold and rainy — conditions that, biologically, make it nearly impossible for the average teenager to function. Yet the 10 boys and eight girls who pour into the first-period Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus class at McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, N.J., seem remarkably alert. Maybe it's the influence of Victorina Wasmuth, their peppy, diminutive math teacher, who exudes a boundless enthusiasm as she introduces a lesson on Rolle's Theorem and the extreme-value theorem, which, she explains, are key underpinnings of calculus. Wasmuth tosses out problems for her students to solve and then roves the room, examining their work. "You're all very smart!" she exclaims. "You're all capable of coming up with these theorems on your own."

Adam Capulong, 17, who sports the collared shirt and tie required for boys at this racially diverse urban magnet school, adores the class. "It brings all aspects of math together," says the straight-A student, who is hoping to go to Harvard. But the challenging college-level course is just one small serving on an academic plate that he has heaped with five additional AP courses, including AP French, AP English Literature and AP Art History. That's on top of the three AP courses he took as a junior and one as a sophomore….

This is the beginning of the Time Article on Nov 8, 2004. Can you figure who are the Filipinos mentioned here? Adam Capulong is Agbayani as a Filipino name and he is but except for the diminutive description of Victorina Wasmuth I would never guess. I am always impressed by the brilliant achievement of the young Filipino American and proud of the teacher the students derived from.


The article added…. many AP programs are first rate. Calculus, especially in the hands of a gifted teacher like Wasmuth, is widely considered to be one of the best-thought-out AP programs, as is AP English Language and Composition, which teaches students how to critically analyze literary works. Two years ago, when the Center for Education at the National Academy of Sciences conducted one of the few serious studies of the AP curriculum ever done, it praised the AP Calculus program for achieving "an appropriate balance between breadth and depth."

From St Dominic Academy ‘92 yearbook

Comments from my kid who went to St Dominic:
yeah, dad... ms. wasmuth was ate (older sister) and my calculus teacher at St. 
Dom's.... She was the best teacher there and they didn't pay her enough. I was in 
her last class at St. Dom's. 


I am not going to tell you about this AP program that I know a little bit about after having all my kids had gone thru with it. I am very proud of my kids who learned a lot from the school maestros.  The young brilliant mind is a god given gift but even the most wonderful gift has to be wrapped. This is about students and teachers in Jersey City. I found out later on that Victorina taught at St Dominic Academy and St Anthony HS before she started teaching at McNair Academy   

 (Academic) in 1996. St Dominic Academy has produced outstanding female students from Hudson County and St Anthony HS is without any doubt the greatest basketball high school in the nation. It is worth noting that the parochial schools gave a Filipino American teacher a start in academic teaching.  Jersey City prides itself as the most diversified city in the country and the number in the most elite public school in NJ, the McNair Academy manifest almost 28% Asian, 26% Latino, 24% black and 21% white students.


The selection requirement to the McNair Academy is very high academically but it is true also that the seat is very limited. The racial profile might be just another case for reverse discrimination as the white students make up the minority. Ethnicity and race were factors in the application process but the board walked the fine line by accepting other considerations. There is also a misconception about the under funding of Jersey City schools and school teachers in urban areas being underpaid. Jersey City schools at one time rank as the highest paid teacher in the nation. The cost of education has gone up with the rise of property taxes as test scores of public schools went down on opposite direction. There were times when private schools funding came from church parishioners as affluent members have moved out of the city if not slowly moving out of active church participation.  The sections that are unable to climb the economic ladder stayed with the few who like to live in Jersey and new immigrants who come and stay regardless of cost. The economic public cost driving the system to bankruptcy. The local government showing recovery lately as property ownership has been brighter. The same can not be said about the Catholic community that is now faced with church and school closing.


It is interesting to note that even just a few years ago McNair Academy doesn’t have their school building. The same can be said about the small but perennial Saint Anthony basketball powerhouse ability to win championship every year without owning a basketball gym. They are both winners.