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About Manhattan Country School

At Manhattan Country School (MCS), students in pre-K through eighth grade are members of a collaborative learning community that has been a model for both progressive education and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic diversity since our founding in 1966. Whether in our New York City classrooms or at our Farm in the Catskill Mountains, students participate in an academic program that fosters curiosity, individuality and sense of purpose; provides a deep understanding of our multicultural world; instills a life-long love of learning; and prepares students to succeed in high school and beyond.

Our Mission Reflecting the vision of the Civil Rights Movement, Manhattan Country School teaches students in a community with no racial majority and broad economic diversity. Our goals for students are: • academic excellence • intellectual freedom • social awareness • self-confidence • first-hand knowledge of the natural world A 180-acre working farm integral to the curriculum and a  sliding-scale tuition program make MCS unique among  New York City independent schools.

Our Vision Manhattan Country School envisions its students as future leaders whose shared experiences in learning and activism inspire them to champion excellence and justice, compassion and peace, and the rights of all people to racial, economic, environmental and educational equity.


From Director

Michèle Solá

1966 Manhattan Country School founded

1971 MCS sliding-scale tuition program introduced

Manhattan County School is a small school where a vibrant energy is apparent the minute you enter. Children rush in the door each morning and linger long after school is over. In between, they are hard at work and at play, surrounded by: • teachers who have a deep respect for children’s natural curiosity and value what happens when children are encouraged to work together in meaningful ways. • a deliberate curriculum that takes full advantage of the multiracial, multicultural and economic diversity of our community. • a focus on people who work together to effect change, which encourages discussion, research and collaboration.  • learning laboratories in New York City and at the MCS Farm that foster an understanding and deep appreciation of the natural world.




300+ 24,840 watts of electricity


produced by the Farm’s

Faculty of Color

solar panels


12 TENURE 5,100 {} average years of of MCS staff

Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March speeches given since 1998

acres at the MCS Farm


prepared by students at the Farm each year

FA M I LY S T O R I E S written and shared by 7-8s students since 1985

(lines__of__computer__code) <<written by>> {eighth-grade algebra students} [each year]

100% of students

COMPOST their lunch leftovers

MCS by the Numbers



A Progressive Approach to Education At Manhattan Country School, our way of thinking about children and learning draws upon a rich history of progressive educational philosophy. Our commitment to equality and social justice is at the center of our curriculum, which supports the values of a working democracy: interdependence, self-reliance, free inquiry and a respect for differences. We follow a developmental approach that nurtures all parts of the child – intellectual, artistic, physical, social and emotional. Children play, explore, listen, ask questions and make meaning from their experiences. They learn to understand and respect multiple perspectives and to seek evidence and think critically before coming to conclusions.

Progressive education at MCS is distinctive because of the following three elements of our mission:

The MCS Farm

Spending a total of 17 weeks at the MCS Farm cultivates a sense of place and shared responsibility.

At MCS, progressive education is how we translate our mission into learning.

—Karen Sixth Grade Teacher

Diverse Community

Growing up in a truly diverse community includes many people’s stories as part of each child’s experience, while fostering compassion and a strong sense of identity.

Social Justice and Activism

Engaging students regularly in social activism gives them the confidence and voice to be members of society who strive to effect positive change.


MCS is a school that emphasizes social values and these values are the fabric of MCS life. The school lives these values— in the way teachers teach and the ways students and teachers interact. It’s a great progressive school, but much more than that, it is a community—of educators, students and parents—thinking together about how to make a better world. —Brian MCS Parent


Academics The academic program at Manhattan Country School is comprehensive, innovative and dynamic. It relies upon rich learning environments where children are encouraged to explore their surroundings, think critically and articulate their opinions. Flexibility within a sequential curriculum allows us to meet the needs of the individual as well as the group. Teachers focus on depth of study and value the process of learning. Small groups enable students to establish close connections with teachers and each other, while


time for self-reflection helps students develop a sense of self and an awareness of who they are as learners. At the MCS Farm in the Catskill Mountains, children spend part of the year not just learning about the environment but also living sustainably, in intimate connection with the earth. Students learn to be responsible for themselves and to their community in an atmosphere where they can consistently engage in meaningful learning and experiences that impact their community.

Lower School

Upper School

❝ The Lower School includes pre-K through fourth grade in mixed-age classrooms that allow for maximum flexibility to meet individual developmental needs. These classes are referred to by age (4-5s, 5-6s, 6-7s, 7-8s, 8-9s, 9-10s). The program in the Lower School emphasizes active participation in interdisciplinary, meaningful learning. Social studies is the core of the curriculum, building on children’s growing curiosity and understanding of the world around them. Teachers give importance to skill development in all subject areas, including language arts, math, science, Spanish, art, shop, music, library, physical education and more. Caring for one another and building a strong sense of self and a responsibility to our community are integral components of the Lower School program.

The Upper School incorporates the school’s mission of engagement and social justice within an academic curriculum. Lessons balance active experiential learning, intellectual inquiry and adolescent development. Projects such as role plays, science experiments, math trails, autobiographies, interviews, field trips and more bring the curriculum to life. Mastery of academic skills occurs in tandem with increased self-awareness and community involvement.

MCS is giving my granddaughter the kind of start we want all children to have.

–Robert Reich Former United States Secretary of Labor

Fifth- and sixth-graders learn in homeroom classes in frequent collaboration with specialists. In seventh and eighth grade, the program is fully departmentalized and taught by specialists. English, history and science are presented in mixed-age groupings. These classes promote academic mentoring relationships and allow for more support for the wide range in adolescent development. Math and Spanish, requiring sequential instruction, are taught in grade-level groupings. Electives for sixth-, seventhand eighth-graders expand arts, music, technology and physical education offerings, including team sports. Seventh- and eighth-graders meet regularly with an advisor who provides personal and academic support.


The Farm Students first visit our award-winning Farm in the Catskill Mountains with their classroom teacher in the spring of their 7-8s (second grade) year. The number and duration of their visits increase in the following years and by fifth grade they begin spending three weeks at the Farm, making a week-long trip during each season of the school year. Working together while at the Farm, students learn to plant, harvest and cook food for the meals served at the Farm. They take part in monitoring the solar production of electricity and chopping firewood for heat in our


outbuildings. They study the process of turning sheep’s wool into yarn and then into cloth. They explore the Farm’s fields, streams and forests and consider the best measures for environmental stewardship. From their experiences at the MCS Farm students become capable managers of farm chores, observers of animal and plant life and analysts of environmental issues. Over time, as students advance through the Lower and Upper School, their work at the Farm becomes more complex, drawing on and enriching the classroom curriculum.

Lessons that shape students’ thoughts and inform future decisions come in steady waves while living, working and playing at the MCS Farm. Experiencing the dawning moo of a cow, baa of a sheep or fee-bee song of a chickadee cannot be replicated by a book or website.

—John MCS Farm Program Director



Faculty and Staff Manhattan Country School’s faculty and staff are dedicated professionals who are committed to the mission of the school. Their passion for children and education is evident in the way they approach their work. Among the teaching staff there is a balance of mentor teachers with years of experience and younger teachers, all drawn to MCS’ educational philosophy and public mission. Working within an established framework for the curriculum, every teacher explores innovative ways to approach their respective subjects in response to students’ interests and stage of development. Professional development opportunities— including receiving summer grants to travel abroad, attending and presenting at conferences and contributing written pieces to educational journals—inform and enhance teachers’ work in the classroom.

I get to be a part of an amazing community of staff, faculty, students and parents. I get to work for administrators who respect individual children and teachers. I get to teach in a manner that makes sense for the entire class but allows flexibility for individual learners.

—Debbie 8-9s Teacher



Life at Manhattan Country School Community is the cornerstone of MCS. From curriculum design and classroom activities to community gatherings and fundraising events, students, teachers and families work together to honor the benefits of experiential learning, collaboration, diversity and interdependence.


Class Jobs

Every class at MCS begins with a morning meeting. Students learn how to listen to each other, respect each other’s ideas and engage in dialogue with the group. In the earlier grades, morning meetings begin with a message, including announcements and a framing question, such as “What did we see on our neighborhood walk?” or “What does it mean to be an activist?” Community meetings are a place to address classroom issues or discuss current events or topics suggested by students.

Every classroom has a job chart that gives each student a role in maintaining the classroom as a productive learning environment. Students help with tasks such as taking attendance, collecting homework, cleaning up and recycling, and serving lunch, which fosters their sense of responsibility and accountability to their community. Additionally, beginning with the 6-7s (first grade), each class has a job that the students do for the school.






School Messengers

School Store

Reading Buddies

Fifth Grade:

Sixth Grade:

Seventh Grade:

Eighth Grade:

School Newspaper

Library Helpers

Child Development (working with the 4-5s)

Admissions Tour Guides


The Arts MCS encourages studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; self-expression through the arts. Classrooms and common areas exhibit childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paintings, drawings, shop and ceramic projects, and textiles woven at the Farm. Art classes are part of the schedule for all students through sixth grade. Our seventh- and eighth-graders choose from even broader options through our Upper School electives program.


Movement and Athletics Students hone motor, social and cognitive skills through our Lower School movement classes and Upper School physical education program. Upper School students also develop teamwork and perseverance as members of our junior varsity and varsity soccer, basketball, softball and track and field teams, which participate in the American International Private School League.

Afterschool MCS offers an Afterschool Program Monday through Thursday that features a rich selection of classes such as Mandarin, chess, cooking, computer coding, drama, creative writing and skateboarding. A hallmark of our Afterschool Program is the mixed-aged groupings of our classes, which allow children from different grades to interact and learn from each other and form friendships.

Family Involvement Families are an integral part of our academic program and our community. They are often invited to come to a class and share their interests, whether cooking a special dish, playing music, talking about their jobs or sharing a piece of their family’s culture and heritage. Parents also accompany classes on field trips. Just as each class of students has a job for the school, parents also take on jobs, such as organizing our annual street festival, community picnic at the Farm or eighthgrade graduation. Every parent is a member of our Parents’ Association, which meets regularly to ensure the school has a well-informed and active parent body.

Community Events From Farm Festival to Big Night Out! to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March to Farm Outing Day, MCS reinforces a sense of community with events that bring students, families, alumni and friends together to share in the warmth and spirit of the MCS experience. In addition to reflecting our mission and values, many of these events serve as fundraisers to support our program in the city and at the Farm and our sliding-scale tuition model.

We love what MCS has done for our son…. He shows so much pride for his school and he feels he is an integral part of the community. He wants to be present, both literally and figuratively, because he feels that his active participation matters. This sense of belonging and connection is a great foundation to become an engaged citizen of the world community. — Ines MCS Parent


MCS gave me a core set of values that I will take with me through the rest of my life and use to guide my decision making. It has given me a sense of what’s right and wrong and taught me how to tackle things that are difficult. It has given me a second family and a home away from home.

–Leilani ’15

High School Placement Beginning in the seventh grade, students and parents work handin-hand with our high school placement director and Upper School director to prepare for the transition to high school. Our comprehensive counseling program provides families with information about private and public high school options and the application process. Eighth-graders attend a weekly class to practice essay writing, prepare for placement tests, interview high school representatives and compare their own experiences visiting schools.


Typically half of our graduates attend private high schools and half go on to competitive-entrance public high schools. A few attend boarding school. MCS eighth-graders are generally admitted to their top-choice high schools, which have included Bard, Beacon, Bronx Science, Calhoun, Dalton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elisabeth Irwin, Fieldston, Friends Seminary, Hotchkiss, LaGuardia, Nightingale, Packer, Putney and Riverdale.

Our Alumni MCS has graduated more than 1,000 students since the first eighth-grade class in 1971. They work in fields such as law, business, science, medicine, education, social services and the arts. They carry with them the values of critical thinking, creativity, scholarship, social justice and community learned at MCS and they apply these values to their day-to-day work.

Going to MCS has been one of the most important influences in my life… In a very demonstrable way it exposed me to the whole world of New York City. That has shaped everything that I have done in my adult life....

—Alicia Glen ’80 New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development



Want to Learn More? Students and families at Manhattan Country School are part of a community that is a purposeful model of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. This diversity is supported by our sliding-scale tuition program, which is based on the principle that a familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s financial commitment should be in equitable proportion to its financial resources. This approach seeks to eliminate the categories of scholarship and full tuition in a community of families that is collectively engaged in the education of its children. If you think our academic program and community might be a good fit for your child and your family, we invite you to get to know us better by visiting our website, connecting with us on social media, contacting our admissions team and spending time at our school. Our admissions team is here to guide and assist you through each step of the admissions process.

Contact Us Email: Phone: 212-348-0952 ext. 224 Website: Facebook: Twitter:

Manhattan Country School Admissions Brochure  
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