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 and first-hand knowledge of the natural world. MCS is unique among New York City independent schools in having a 180-acre working farm integral to the curriculum and a sliding scale for tuition.
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.
Student and staff diversity has been an imperative at Manhattan Country School since its founding in 1966. Recent research from Teachers College, Columbia University supports what MCS’ founders knew from the start. “Students’ exposure to other students who are different from themselves and the novel ideas and challenges that such exposure brings leads to improved cognitive skills, including critical thinking and problem solving.”
For five decades, Manhattan Country School has maintained a student community with no racial majority. The rich diversity of our student population is fostered by a sliding-scale tuition policy that make it possible for families to pay tuition based on their means. Nationally, approximately 22.5 percent of independent school families receive financial aid. At Manhattan Country School, 75 percent of families pay tuition on a sliding scale, while 100 percent benefit from an economically and culturally diverse learning community.
Social Justice & Activism
Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideals of equality, nonviolence and justice, MCS has held activism as a core component of its curriculum since its founding. Students from pre-K to eighth grade learn to understand multiple viewpoints while defending their own opinions and to value human rights and environmental justice. Annual activism projects raise awareness about issues that impact not only MCS students, but students and communities across the city and the nation. Our students have been active participants in efforts to speak out about topics such as the Syrian refugee crisis and Islamophobia, the school-to-prison pipeline, sexual violence, bullying, mountaintop removal and immigration. Our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March attracts hundreds of New Yorkers who support our eighth-graders as they give speeches about the pressing civil rights issues of our day.
Progressive Education & Teacher Training
Since developmental psychologist Erik Erikson began observing MCS classrooms in 1968, we have attracted the interest of educators, administrators and student teachers from public, charter and independent schools. Over the past 50 years, MCS has trained nearly 1,000 teachers, a large majority who have gone on to teach in public schools. In addition, we’ve hosted more than 5,000 educational observers from across the country and the world who are applying our progressive approach to education in their own schools in various ways.
Farm-Based Education & Sustainability
MCS’ farm program, based at our 180-acre working farm in the Catskill Mountains, has been a part of the school since its inception. Goals of the program include offering students environmental education and exposure to rural living, teaching students the value of work and interdependence, creating an equalizing experience where diverse groups of children can come together as a community and tying the values of sustainability inherent in the farm program to our long-held commitment to equality and activism. Since 1966, more than 10,000 students have benefited from the MCS Farm program and have learned how to live more sustainable lives. More than 7,400 of these students have been from public, charter and independent schools in New York City, the local Catskills area, Indonesia and Brazil.
Our work impacts more than just MCS students. Through programs and partnerships with public schools and other organizations, we strive to address some of the most challenging educational issues of our time. As a result, communities across New York City, the United States and the world are able to experience the benefit of a learning community committed to progressive education, diversity, sustainability and activism. Programs supporting our public mission include the MLK Book Award, our teacher training program and our MCS Farm rental program.