Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, Brown v Board and the work of activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Manhattan Country Schoool’s founders, Gus and Marty Trowbridge, set out to create a progressive independent school with a mission and academic program that centered racial equity and social justice, social emotional intelligence and experiential, place-based learning.
The school would also serve as a training ground for educators learning to develop curriculum and teach in ways that respect, value and support children from all backgrounds.  This radical idea became a reality in September 1966, when sixty six children from diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic circumstances walked through the doors of Manhattan Country School.
Because there were no charter schools at that time, Manhattan Country School opened as an independent school with a public mission. To support our commitment to socioeconomic diversity and make enrollment accessible to all families, the school developed a radical financial model, including a sliding scale tuition program which enables families to share educational costs equitably and pay tuition based on their means.
Committed to teaching its purposefully diverse student body about food systems, sustainability and the environment, MCS is also unique in providing a high quality progressive education that includes an integrated farm-based curriculum at our 200-acre farm in the Catskills.
Since 1966,  more than 1,500 students have attended Manhattan Country School but our school's impact reaches beyond our community:
  • More than 1,000 student teachers and interns have trained at MCS
  • More than 10,000 students from schools throughout New York State have visited MCS Farm
  • More than 5,000 educators and administrators from other schools have visited to observe MCS our educational model

Our Founders' Story

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  • Gus and Marty Trowbridge

    Lyndon B. Johnson entered his second term as president. The war in Vietnam was escalating. The march on Selma led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, while race riots erupted in Watts, California. Malcolm X was assassinated.
    As these history-shaping events were unfolding across the globe in 1965, in New York City Gus and Marty Trowbridge were planting the seeds of an idea that would grow to become Manhattan Country School. Both were moved by the state of current affairs and captivated by the call for equality set forth by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech.
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