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MCS Names New Farm Director, Head Teachers for 4-5s, 5-6s, and 6-7s

Friday, June 10, 2016

Manhattan Country School is pleased to announce the appointment of a new farm director and the head teachers who will lead the doubling classes of 4-5s, 5-6s and 6-7s in 2016-2017.

John McDaniel has been selected as Manhattan Country School’s next MCS Farm Director. John is currently the MCS Farm Program Director. He joined the MCS Farm faculty as the nature teacher in 1989 and expanded his role to program director several years later. For more than 25 years, John’s steadfast dedication to principles of farm-based education is recognizable in the lifelong impact it has had on students. MCS graduates are conversant with the 3 E’s, and are pushed to new understandings of their own competence with night walks and days devoted to the production of maple syrup. Introduced to John Burroughs and the long history of naturalists in the Catskills, they are game to try his approach to winter cold—“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

With other Farm faculty, John has been a caretaker of the Farm’s physical needs, through the seasons and in exceptional times like Hurricane Irene. He has sought to evolve the program so it incorporates change taking place in the Catskills. He is a spokesperson for the Farm program at conferences, and has written about it for both internal and external publications.

John’s transition to the role of farm director coincides with a larger institutional transition. Several excerpts of John’s application indicate the approach he will bring to that. “Manhattan Country School is at a moment in time, where its passionate community, filled with diverse thought, is faced with change.” “Our new farm director will need to be aware of and keep our faculty apprised and inspired by the changes and innovations in farming, experiential and place-based education and the small, but quickly growing and vibrant world of educational farms.”

Shaping a program for the school and the Farm with two classes at each grade level, and eventually twice as many students, will require close collaboration between Lower School, Upper School and Farm Directors. Mary Trowbridge, Maiya Jackson and Michèle Solá welcome John as a partner in co-creating a strongly place-based, experiential and innovative program. Interim Farm Director Ed Fersch will continue to have a part-time role as a mentor during the leadership transition.

4-5s, 5-6s and 6-7s Head Teachers for 2016-2017

Manhattan Country School will go from having one class of 4-5s, 5-6s and 6-7s to having two next school year. The following will be the head teachers for those classes:

4-5s: Sarah Leibowits and Paulo Arango

5-6s: Laleña Garcia and Anna Sobel

6-7s: Laura Swindler and Reese Mason

5-6s assistant teacher Anisah Moonsammy will be the assistant teacher in Reese’s class next year. Additional assistant teachers will be announced at the beginning of the school year.