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6-7s Building Study: Progressive Education

Inside Manhattan Country School: March 2019

Inside Manhattan Country School: March 2019

Inside Manhattan Country School: March 2019

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Message from Manhattan Country School Director Michèle Solá

This is an exciting time at Manhattan Country School, as we are expanding to two classes per grade and enjoying a new facility renovated with learning, light and air in mind. I am thrilled you are considering MCS for your family. While the reasons families choose MCS are as individual as the families themselves, there are common themes in what they seek for their children.

An Engaging Progressive Education Program

Our way of thinking about children and learning draws upon a rich history of progressive educational philosophy. Children are excited to learn, think critically and articulate their opinions, and develop strong academic skills. In addition, they come to understand the values of a working democracy: interdependence, self-reliance, free inquiry and a respect for differences.

Core academic subjects like social studies, language arts, science, math, Spanish, music, art, woodshop and physical education, and a host of electives ranging from rhythm and poetry to robotics are all part of our program. Teachers frequently collaborate, and students do the same. Technology is integrated meaningfully. A few of the hallmarks of progressive education at MCS are the projects where students work together within grades and among older and younger classes. The use of New York City as a rich resource for learning is extensive. And nothing could be more distinguishing than the 17 weeks spent at the MCS Farm.

A Diverse Community

Research by The Century Foundation and other organizations shows that children in racially and economically mixed classes perform better academically and develop stronger critical thinking and problem-solving skills on average than children in homogeneous classrooms. What’s more, exposure to diversity increases cross-racial knowledge, understanding and empathy; better prepares students for employment in the global economy; and increases engagement in political issues and participation in the democratic process. And it’s not just the children who benefit from diversity at MCS. The whole family becomes part of the MCS community, a supportive network of parents and caregivers, faculty and staff, and alumni families who represent a diverse range of ideas and experiences.

A Commitment to Social Justice and Activism

Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideals of equality and nonviolence, MCS has held activism and social justice as core components of our curriculum since our founding. Parents appreciate that from pre-K to eighth grade their children learn to value human rights and understand multiple viewpoints. Their children also see first hand the difference they can make when they stand up for what they believe in.  

A Desire to Live More Sustainably

Families value the unparalleled experience provided by the time their children spend at the MCS Farm. The farm program teaches children how to run a working farm, live sustainably and be responsible for themselves and to their community in an atmosphere where they consistently engage in meaningful learning.

Like the families of the many children who have attended MCS since we opened our doors in 1966, I’m sure one or more of the above reasons resonate with your family. As you make your decision about whether MCS is right for your family, I invite you to read the articles written by MCS teachers and administrators to learn even more about what your child will gain by attending MCS.


Michèle Solá
Manhattan Country School

In January, the 4-5s began their Baby Study curriculum.  The Baby Study is the children’s first step to understanding history and there is no better place to start than to take a look at their own histories from birth to age four or five.  4-5s head teacher Sarah Leibowits began developing this unit in 1994, the year she began teaching the 4-5s.  She inherited the basic idea of the baby study from the previous teacher, and has expanded upon it over the past two decades.  Now, both Sarah and Paulo Arango, the other 4-5s head teacher, teach this curriculum annually to their students. Read more
Science in Manhattan Country School’s Lower School is a time for students to explore and engage deeply with the natural spaces in our community. We are outside for the majority of the year, rain or shine, using areas like Central Park and Riverside Park as living laboratories for science learning. Read more
5-6s Subitizing
An important feature of an early childhood math curriculum that parents may not know about is something called subitizing, which is a big word for a very simple phenomenon: the ability to recognize the number of objects simply by looking at their arrangement. If you have ever rolled a pair of dice and recognized 12 pips by seeing two sets of boxcars, then you know what it feels like to subitize. Read more
We often hear or use the phrase, “paying it forward.” This usually pertains to doing a good deed for others or a random act of kindness. We’ve been using this phrase the past couple weeks at the Manhattan Country School Farm to reflect on our gardening practices. Read more
Throughout the year, students at MCS have been discussing the 13 Principles of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement. Authored by members of the curriculum committee of Black Lives Matter At School Movement, including our own Laleña Garcia (5-6s Sur head teacher), these principles spell out the tenets of the BLM movement in age-appropriate language for both early elementary and middle school-aged children. During the week of February 4th, our community participated in the national Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action. Schools in over fifty cities across the country took part in this and Manhattan Country School is proud to be one of them. Read more