Community News

32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, January 19, 2020

32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March - EQUITY NOW: Today's Youth Speak Out For Social Change

Please join us, TOMORROW, Monday, January 20, as Manhattan Country School eighth-graders honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by taking to the streets of Upper Manhattan to speak out about what they consider to be the most pressing civil rights issues of their time.

The theme of the 32nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March is "Equity Now: Today's Youth Speak Out For Change." The march will start at 10 a.m. at Harlem’s Harriet Tubman Memorial Triangle on 122nd Street and ends at approximately 2 p.m. at Manhattan Country School. Route Information below.

Starting time & location: 10 a.m. Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial
(West 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard)

Stop #2: Frederick Douglass Circle
(West 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard)

Stop #3: Joan of Arc Statue
(Riverside Park at West 94th Street) 

Stop #4: West Side Campaign Against Hunger
(263 West 86th Street)

Ending time & location: 2 p.m. at Manhattan Country School
(150 W 85th Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues)

Please follow our hashtag #MCSMLKMarch for route coverage and status updates.

We invite you to join us and bring family, friends and colleagues who are seeking an educational and uplifting experience on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We hope to see you tomorrow! Until then:

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Join Us in Honoring Dr. King - 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, January 5, 2020

32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March - EQUITY NOW: Today's Youth Speak Out For Social Change


On Monday, January 20, 2020, Manhattan Country School eighth-graders will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by taking to the streets of Upper Manhattan to speak out about what they consider to be the most pressing civil rights issues of their time.

The theme of the 32nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March is "Equity Now: Today's Youth Speak Out For Change." The march will start at 10 a.m. at Harlem’s Harriet Tubman Memorial Triangle on 122nd Street and ends at approximately 2 p.m. at Manhattan Country School. Route Information below.

Starting time & location: 10 a.m. Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial
(West 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd)

Stop #2: Frederick Douglass Circle
(West 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd)

Stop #3: Joan of Arc Statue
(Riverside Park and West 94th Street) 

Stop #4: West Side Campaign Against Hunger
(263 West 86th Street)

Ending time & location: 2 p.m. at Manhattan Country School
(150 W 85th Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues)

Please follow our hashtag #MCSMLKMarch for route coverage and status updates.

We invite you to join us and bring family, friends and colleagues who are seeking an educational and uplifting experience on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We hope to see you Monday, January 20. Until then:

2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Assemblies

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, January 5, 2020

On Friday, January 17, MCS will hold its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Assemblies, where the community gathers to sing songs in celebration of civil rights.

Two members from each student’s family are welcome to attend. We will Facebook Live Steam the assemblies and video will be available on the Manhattan Country School Page following the assembly. 

Morning Assembly - 9:15 a.m. Assembly:  4-5s through 7-8s and their families.

Afternoon Assembly - 2 p.m. Assembly: 8-9s through eighth grade and their families.

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MCS Farm Teachers Attend An Evening with Temple Grandin, Ph.D.

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, November 24, 2019

The ongoing professional development of the teaching and administrative staff is an important aspect of maintaining the quality of the academic program and the administrative operation at MCS. Staff members are encouraged to participate in professional development to stay informed about developments in their field and to continue gaining expertise in many areas of education. On Wednesday, November 20, three members of the MCS Farm Faculty - Cathy Cammer, Program Coordinator and Farmwork Teacher, Lacey Stewart, Farm Nature Teacher and Leila Jacobson, Farm Intern - attended An Evening with Temple Grandin: "Educating All Kinds of Minds" at SUNY Oneonta.

Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Studies at Colorado State University, is a prominent author and speaker on both autism and animal behavior. Although Temple did not speak until she was three and a half years old and was considered "weird" for her learning development growing up, she has gone on to have a successful career as a professor and consultant for livestock handling equipment design and animal welfare. Currently, half the cattle in the United States are handled in facilities she has designed.

Dr. Grandin's seminar focused on the importance of exposing students to hands on work and experience. Cathy, Lacey and Leila described the seminar as a valuable source for enhancing how they think about teaching students at the Farm. "Supporting what a child is good at and focusing on their strengths rather than what they can't do is at the center of our teaching model and was a prevalent theme in Dr. Grandin's presentation," Lacey said. 

"What stood out from the event was the importance of celebrating the vast diversity of thinkers and relating visual thinkers to animals who are also visual thinkers," Leila said. "The current education system is weeding out visual thinkers and at the Farm we are able to facilitate real life relationships for students and the Farm and livestock that they help to maintain."

Watch the live stream here!

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Welcome the Next Director of MCS

News Type:  Community News Date:  Wednesday, October 23, 2019

We are pleased and excited to announce that the Board of Trustees has chosen Corey Blay to serve as our next Director. Like our founders, Gus and Marty Trowbridge, and Michèle Solá, who has been our leader for more than two decades, Corey has a deep belief in the power of an inclusive education to create a better world for everyone. Corey will formally join MCS in July 2020, and we expect he will be a regular presence at school and at MCS events between now and then.

Corey began his career in education nearly 15 years ago. He joined Fieldston as a history teacher, was later a founding team member of Fieldston’s then-new middle school and eventually took on the additional role of Diversity Coordinator. After leaving Fieldston, Corey developed a mentorship program at Teach for America designed to support and retain staff members of color and those from low-income backgrounds. He also earned an M.B.A. from NYU’s Stern School of Business and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He now serves as program director of the NYU Leadership Initiative, where his accomplishments include generating support from major corporations to create a scholarship program at Stern for first-generation, low-income students.

The MCS Search Committee worked tirelessly for months to gather a pool of nearly two dozen candidates and then narrowed that group down to the three finalists who visited the school this fall. Corey stood out at every step for his lifelong pursuit of the kind of diversity and equity that is the heartbeat of the MCS mission and his sustained commitment to developing the array of leadership and fund-raising skills needed to turn that shared vision into an everyday reality. When Corey spoke at the school, his powerful personal journey, passion for education, compelling public presence and ability to quickly establish a rapport with students, parents, faculty and staff alike all shone through. The strong positive feedback from the community dovetailed with the Board’s conclusion that Corey is the right leader at the right time for MCS. 

“This is truly a dream come true,” Corey said after accepting the position. “It’s an honor to steward Gus and Marty's vision and build on Michèle’s legacy as we endeavor to amplify our voice and impact across the city and beyond. I’m eager to meet with and learn from more members of the MCS family, thrilled to partner with you all to chart MCS’ next chapter and excited to milk my first cow at the Farm as soon as possible.”      

Board members are energized by the work of the school leadership team and look forward to working closely with Corey in the coming months to help him prepare for his new role. We encourage everyone in our community to welcome Corey and to share with him your knowledge, expertise and personal perspective about MCS, both what makes it special and how he can lead it to even greater heights in the years to come.

In partnership,
Dr. Gisele C. Shorter, Chair, MCS Board of Trustees
Roxanne Leff, Chair of the Director Search Committee

MCS Educators Present at Progressive Education Network Conference

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, October 13, 2019

Upper School Director Maiya Jackson and Upper School teacher Nassim Zerriffi attended and led workshops at the Progressive Education Network (PEN) National Conference in Minneapolist/St. Paul, Minnesota the first weekend in October. The conference takes place every two years and is a diverse gathering of educators from around the country. The theme of the PEN Conference 2019 was Educating for Democracy: Navigating the Current and Channeling the Future of Progressive Education.

Maiya led a conference titled Progressive Leadership: Building School and Cross-Sector Partnerships that Educate for Democracy. The main question she focused on in her workshop was: how do the leaders of progressive schools support, protect, and celebrate progressive philosophy and teaching?

"We feel a sense of urgency in both teaching children about social justice and democracy and engaging in the practice of education as an act of social justice," Maiya said in her presentation. "With current systematic changes in both independent and public sectors we are particularly attuned to the need for joining together to uphold our values and practice.  As school leaders, we must find a balance between daily support and decision making, larger questions about the culture and inclusivity of our schools, and even broader discussions about our schools in the context of politics, districts, communities, activism and more."

Participants in the workshop worked in small groups to learn about practices of school leaders from various sectors that are working to lead and build schools centered around democratic progressive education, even as we all may define that differently within the context of our communities and schools. Maiya challenged those who attended to "reflect on their own practice as school leaders and how their educational philosophy shapes their work and future goals for their communities."

Nassim hosted a workshop titled Activism as Essential Pedagogy. The workshop explored ways to engage youth in activism and advocacy and include strategies for integrating activism into the curriculum. He also discussed how to build a stand-alone activism program, from designing the program and elements of a successful program to potential challenges and opportunities. 

Nassim described the goals of his workshop as follows: "Activism provides youth with an opportunity to be involved in their community, the political process, and is academically rich while being practical and speaking to their needs. It provides opportunities for youth to step into leadership, and develop a sense of agency. The experience of having a voice in the issues that affect their lives and their world can be an empowering and life-changing experience.  This kind of empowering program can also be transformative for school culture in general as it fundamentally shifts the adult-youth dynamic, shows high expectations and trust, and makes school a “real life” experience. Furthermore, young people are feeling, and correctly assessing, high risk of multiple crisis including ecological collapse, the erosion of democracy, unstable inequality, the resurgence of white supremacy, and even fascism globally. Given the recent examples of powerful youth activism from the anti-gun violence students to the school strike movement, can we afford not to prepare our young people for powerful civic engagement?"

 Manhattan Country School educators have long since been models of teaching progressive education. In addition to educating children, our skilled and dedicated teachers take opportunities to share their knowledge with other educators. 

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MCS Students Support the Youth Climate Strike

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 29, 2019 Byline:  Michèle Solá, Director

The School Strike 4 Climate on September 20, 2019 energized over a million students to organize massive demonstrations in New York and across the globe on a school day. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who embodies  our ideals of a youth leader, moved to act with her weekly act of defiance outside the Swedish Parliament. A global youth movement aiming its collective voice at a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly animated students and schools to announce they would take part.

Questions about MCS participation came up in mid-summer when the strike was first gathering steam. Members of the MCS community looked to MCS for guidance. How would a school educating to an authentic commitment to sustainability and environmental justice treat this opportunity? Comparisons to the #Enough Walkout, Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the Women’s March came up. Experiencing collective action is powerful and also sometimes scary (as some students could articulate). 

Faculty and staff took time to define our participation further during the opening weeks of school. From beginning to end, this became a collaborative effort among the staff. Student Council was brought into the planning too. Resources, videos and Ted Talks were shared. Leadership emerged among both experienced and new staff as decisions had to be reached. To act? Or not? As a whole school, or separately as Lower and Upper Schools? With or without families? 

“Climate change,” “global warming,” and other sophisticated vocabulary for various age groups became the focus of conversation. The decision was made to support strikers, organize a teach-in for the day and convene the Lower School in Central Park. How could we support a variety of experiences to mark the occasion that would be impactful for children? What relevant songs are already part of the Lower School repertoire? How might students’ creativity be incorporated? What connections to last year’s Green New Deal activism project could be drawn? How would the debates about race and class in the environmental movement shape our participation? 

There was a lot to appreciate when it all came together. 85th Street neighbors, who weren’t always the voices of welcome, watched in admiration and with smiles as Lower School classes chanted and sang their way to the “March for our Planet” in Central Park. Upper School students who did not attend the march spent the afternoon working on climate change related activism projects and activities that consisted of mind-stretching data challenges and playfully combative court battles from “Rethinking Schools’ A People’s Curriculum for the Earth.”

Greta Thunberg is the youthful hero who inspired so many that day. Only a week later she continues to be the object of admiration even as hope of the United Nations embracing substantive change fades. Having so deliberately and creatively made a day of the School Strike for Climate, this September will forever be an experience that was meaningful for MCS students. 

Who are other young champions of environmental justice that deserve to be recognized too? How many more times it will feel right to organize a collective school experience? That is still a question. Who among our students will emerge as young leaders devoted to protecting the earth’s resources in equitable and just ways? That is still a work-in-progress. How many more science classes, social studies projects, trips to Central Park or trips to the Farm will help them figure out the answer? The School Strike for Climate will be another memory that will shape our individual and collective commitment to living lightly and justly on earth. 


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Childcare Guidelines

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 29, 2019

With the start of each school year, we like to remind our friends of childcare guidelines and procedures. At MCS, we try to provide childcare as often as possible at school events. 

In order for us to safely provide childcare for MCS evening and weekend events we ask that you follow this set of guidelines.

  1. Sign up on the appropriate Google Form/Sheet which will be emailed to the community. Please note: sign up will close 24 hours before the event in order to provide adequate time for staff to plan for food, space, and the correct adult to child ratio. If you do not sign up on the Google Sheet we are unable to provide childcare for the event. Unlike Afterschool, we do not accept drop ins. 
  2. On the sign up sheet please indicate how many children will be needing care, their names, and if they will be eating pizza and snacks provided. If they will be eating with us, please indicate if they will be arriving late so that we can save them some pizza. Also, please note that we do not provide gluten free or vegan options at this time. If you intend to send food for your child, please adhere to the ‘nut free’ and ‘no candy, no soda’ policies in place.
  3. If your child is coming to childcare directly from afterschool there will be a space on the sign up sheet to indicate this. Childcare providers will pick them up on the landing at 5:30 p.m. and direct them to the childcare location. 
  4. When you arrive to pick up your child please leave promptly. To be ready for school the next day childcare closes as soon as the event is over.  We cannot accommodate extended time for adults to chat with each other or play with children. Staff needs to to organize and reset spaces so that the cleaning staff can begin their work. It is important for the classrooms to be cleaned for use by teachers the following morning and this work can only be done when everyone has cleared out. 
  5. MCS childcare is available to currently enrolled MCS students only. Unless they attend MCS, we cannot accommodate siblings.

Certain voluntary events will be funded by suggested donations of $10 per child. These events may require sign up on Eventbrite to allow for payment at the time of registration or will be indicated on the Google sign up sheet. 

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Family Style Lunch in the Classroom

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 29, 2019 Byline:  Amanda Hallowell, Food Program and Events Manager

MCS Food Program

The MCS Food Program supports the school’s core mission and values and provides our growing community of students and staff with delicious, nutritious meals each day. Since its inception in 1966, MCS has served lunch to students in the classroom to be enjoyed “family style” at small tables that the children set themselves.

Sharing a communal meal is a unifying experience that allows for conversations about everything from the impacts of food waste to the risks and rewards of trying new things. This tradition is an important reflection of the school’s mission to create a community of children and adults working together and enjoying each other’s company throughout the day.

The MCS Food Program works to ensure that each day’s meal is made from locally sourced, sustainably raised foods, most of which Head Chef Emilie Esders and the rest of the kitchen staff prepare from scratch. Most of our produce, dairy, eggs and meat come from the tri-state area, and our flour, rice and dried beans are from no farther away than New England. We carefully source the poultry from nearby family-run farms, and all of the pork and most of the ground beef we serve comes from the MCS Farm. In addition to preparing our menus from scratch as often as possible, we strive to minimize processed, packaged foods, and limit foods produced by companies with policies and practices that are not in line with MCS’s mission and values. 

Morning Snack

A light snack is served mid-morning to help students make it from breakfast to lunch. Snack offerings include things like fresh fruit, crackers, homemade baked goods, popcorn, cheddar cheese, cider, regular milk and chocolate milk. Students in the seventh and eighth grades receive a slightly heartier snack such as eggs, French toast, or bagels and cream cheese.


Lunch is served family-style in the classroom Monday through Thursday and includes a protein, a carbohydrate, cooked and fresh vegetables and fresh fruit, as well as 2% milk from a local dairy. We typically have one day without meat on the menu and no more than one day per week with beef or pork as the protein. 

Students are expected to join in the lunch prepared by the kitchen each day. Lunch is an important time of the day when students’ sense of community is enhanced by sharing the same meal and taking the time to forge relationships with peers. In the Lower School, while children learn to enjoy sharing a meal with their classmates they practice skills such as passing, pouring and cutting.


Each week’s menu is published in Nuestra Semana en MCS and is available on the MCS website. It is also communicated by email to faculty and staff.  

Each day’s menu, along with a comprehensive list of ingredients, is distributed on the lunch cart sent to each classroom to help teachers and lunch monitors manage dietary restrictions, especially allergies. The menu lists every ingredient, with major allergens for a particular item noted in parentheses.  Here's a sample menu listing:

Chicken Tenders (Gluten, Soy, Eggs & Dairy)
Baked Tofu (Soy)
Corn on the Cob
Fresh Vegetables
Fresh Fruit

For questions about the menu or requests for recipes, please email Head Chef Emilie Esders or call her at 212-348-0952, ext. 215.

On Fridays students bring lunch from home and families are encouraged to support our sustainability mission by packing food in reusable containers and minimizing packaged, processed foods. Sodas, caffeinated beverages and candy are prohibited and we ask that families refrain from sending food in glass containers for safety reasons.

Dietary Concerns

In general, MCS students are expected to participate in the family-style lunch provided by the Food Program each day. We encourage parents of children with a food allergy or restriction documented in Magnus to review the upcoming week’s menu and send in an alternative to the specific menu item (for instance, gluten-free pasta on a day when pasta is on the menu) so their child can participate in the day's lunch along with their peers.  

While it is not possible for us to accommodate every dietary restriction in our community, MCS is a nut free school, and families are asked to be careful not to send in foods that contains nuts. This includes afterschool and foods for classroom celebrations like birthdays, which should include a list of all the ingredients.

We also offer a vegetarian option, such as tofu, hard boiled eggs or beans, on days when animal protein is served for our students who are vegetarian or do not eat certain meats for religious reasons. 

Please indicate any dietary restrictions, allergies or intolerances on Magnus Health and notify your child’s teacher if you have questions about your child’s diet as it pertains to food served at school. Most often, teachers will then direct families to make an appointment with the school nurse, Stephanie Bloom, to discuss their child’s dietary needs. If a child’s medical history indicates the need for an alternative plan for snack and lunch, a doctor’s note should be on file in our nurse’s office. Stephanie can be reached by phone at 212-348-0952, ext. 292 or via email.

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Arrival and Dismissal Procedures

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 15, 2019

As our school continues to grow, we have revised our arrival and dismissal procedures to accommodate the increasing numbers of families. Please read below for our routines:

School opens at 8:30 a.m. Students are expected to be in their classrooms at that time. Students who arrive after 8:45 a.m. must get a late pass from the front desk to give to their teacher.

4-5s and 5-6s: Living Room & Landing 

If 4-5s and 5-6s arrive with their grown-ups earlier than 8:30 a.m., they should wait on the sidewalk. In the event of inclement weather, they are invited to wait in the Living Room on the first floor with their grown ups before going to the classrooms. If 4-5s and 5-6s children need to be dropped off between 8:00 and 8:30, they may go to the 2nd floor landing. Due to space issues, we cannot accommodate children’s grown-ups on the landing.

6-7s - 9-10: Landing

For Lower School families, we encourage students to arrive closer to 8:30 a.m. We recognize that some parents will need to drop off children between 8 and 8:30 because they need to go to work. If you need to drop off your child before 8:30 a.m., there is a supervised space on the second floor landing where children can wait. We ask that parents not wait on the landing or the stairs with their children because there is limited space. There will be a sign-in sheet on the landing so we can keep track of which students are in the building.

5th-8th Grades: Library

Upper School students are encouraged to arrive before 8:30 a.m. so that they have time between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. to get settled in their classrooms and prepare for the day. Students who arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. can wait in the library on the 3rd floor until they are dismissed to classrooms at 8:30 a.m. Students will only be allowed to go their classrooms early if they have made an appointment with their teacher in advance. There will be a sign-in sheet in the library so we can keep track of which students are in the building.

There is no supervision for students before 8 a.m. We ask that students not arrive unsupervised before 8 a.m. Families who arrive before 8 am should wait on the sidewalk until we open the doors.


School ends at 3:00 p.m. for 4-5s through 5th grade. For 6th grade, school ends at 3 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, and Friday and 3:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 7th and 8th graders are dismissed at 3:15 p.m. every day. Starting on September 16, Afterschool begins at 3:00 p.m. for participating students.

4-5s and 5-6s: From Classrooms

Families and caregivers should please pick up students from their classrooms at 3 p.m.

6-7s - 9-10s: From Sidewalk

Students will be dismissed by their teachers from the designated area for their class on the sidewalk. In case of inclement weather, 6-7s will be picked up in flex space and 7-8s through 9-10s will be picked up in the gym.

5th - 8th Grades: 

Upper School students are dismissed from their classrooms to leave on their own.

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