6 photos from the IDEAL Gala: Honoree and founder, 4 students singing, Kissy Simmons singing, 3 people at a decorated table, Board of Trustees, DJ

Gala Update and February News from the Head of School

February 28, 2020

Dear IDEAL Families and Friends:

What an IDEAL week this has been! 

It was wonderful to celebrate IDEAL with you at our 15th Annual Gala on Monday night. With over 398 friends, family, and faculty members attending, the transformative power of our inclusive community was truly palpable. Joining our founders, Mitch Rubin, Michelle Smith, and Audra Zuckerman to celebrate the tremendous contributions that honorees Evan Azrilient, Annette Hayde, Dr. Elisabeth Krents, and Dr. David Salsberg have made to IDEAL was an extraordinary experience. 

One of the biggest surprises at the Gala was the announcement of An Evening with Jennifer Nettles: A Benefit for The IDEAL School of Manhattan. We are grateful to Jennifer for sharing her tremendous talent with IDEAL and for surprising us during the live auction by adding Sugarland tickets, then doubling her VIP ticket package donation, and raising $18,000 for our school! Tickets for the benefit concert at City Winery can be purchased through this link.

The Gala netted over $320,000, which will support our operating budget and benefit our students. Thanks to the leadership of the co-chairs of our Board’s Advancement Committee Fred Neuman and Tracy Nixon, Trustees and Gala Co-Chairs Margaret Lewis and Matt Steinberg and their committee members, and the hard work and planning of so many community members, including trustees, faculty, staff, and parents, and the IDEAL Gala Team of Claudia Koota, Joe Kemp, and Shea Mandolesi, it was a tremendous success. 

It was also wonderful to celebrate the achievements of our senior class at the Gala. Together, the 14 students in our first three senior classes have been accepted to 40 colleges or postsecondary programs, and, to date, this year’s seniors alone have been honored with $1,352,000 in financial aid and scholarships. Of course, numbers cannot convey the empathy and leadership skills of IDEAL seniors. This morning, for example, the seniors led our all-school Black Heritage Month Assembly with confidence and joy. Together, they lifted and united the voices of our 200 plus students and modeled IDEAL’s core values of inclusion, excellence, and acceptance.

Last evening, the power of our IDEAL community was also evident when our Middle School Girls Competitive Basketball Team won their playoff game by one point in overtime against The Windward School. I was exceptionally proud not only of our team and coaches but also of our IDEAL spirit. In the stands, the Middle and High School Boys Teams, as well as a number of families and faculty, cheered their hearts out and lent their strength and voices to the girls on the court. 

Please consider joining me for the MSAL girls championship game against City and Country School on Thursday, March 5, at 4:30 PM. Also, please note that Thursday will be a Red and White Dress Down Day in support of our team; students K-12 may dress out of uniform, and we encourage them to accessorize in as much red and white as possible. 

Thank you all for your dedication and contributions to our school. Together we are IDEAL.


Janet, handwritten, in script

Janet Wolfe
Head of School

3 photos: students at a black history assembly, middle school girls playing basketball, Jennifer Nettles



A girl hands a light-filled glass ball to her Head of School.

From the Head of School: On Peace

December 20, 2019

Dear IDEAL Families:

Yesterday morning, during our rehearsal for the annual Peace and Light Ceremony, from the moment the students gathered the community together with a moment of silence to the final hymn, December’s word of the month, Peace, resonated. 

It resonated in the joyous--and even, at times, boisterous--celebration of students after they successfully completed their songs. It resonated in the respectful way students listened to those selected as readers. And it resonated in the way students came together in harmony when they performed. 

At IDEAL, peace takes many forms, sometimes quiet and sometimes loud, sometimes in the classroom and sometimes in the hallways or before or after school. Peace can look like a Lower School assembly where students discuss the Word of the Month, or peace can sound like the eighth graders delivering their unique IDEAL Talks with confidence and poise. Peace can look like the one-act plays in the Upper School or a large group of Middle School boys cheering on the Middle School Girls Basketball Team at an away game. It can even look like a caring coach commending and refocusing a team after a difficult loss. 

Peace can be found in the fifth grade classroom with students proudly displaying their Esperanza Rising projects, in a first grade publishing party featuring personal narratives, or in an eighth grade English class in the midst of a Socratic seminar on To Kill a Mockingbird. Peace can also become the sole purpose of student work, as is the case with the group of High School students who go by the name R.A.K, meaning Radical Art of Kindness, and act as “peacemakers through art.” Peace can look like Lower School students making placemats to decorate the space at the free lunch program at B’nai Jeshurun or Upper School students in advisory groups making decisions on charitable organizations to partner with for their MLK Day of Service.

Regardless of the form peace takes in any given moment at IDEAL, peace is an intentional goal of our faculty and staff, who work together to craft a peaceful and nurturing learning environment where all community members are embraced for their full identities. Throughout December, I have had the privilege of conducting one on one check-ins with our faculty and staff and have been so impressed with their reflections, ideas, and suggestions for how we can continue to grow together as a community. Almost every single conversation has begun with faculty sharing their support for our mission and our students and their appreciation for being a part of an inclusive and inspiring team. Their ideas for improvement and growth have focused on professional development and schedule. I am appreciative, as well, of the members of my administrative team who are responding with thought and care to these suggestions.

I am grateful, too, for all you give to IDEAL. Your participation in planning events like the Block Party, Family Fun Food Night, and class parties and your service on admissions panels and on Board or Parents Association committees further our work to cultivate the growth of our community. As I conclude individual meetings with faculty in January, I’d like to invite you to the school to share your ideas and questions. In addition to the curriculum coffees planned for January 13 (Grades K-5), 14 (Grades 6-8), and 15 (Grades 9-12), I’d welcome individual conversations with you as parents. Please let me know if you’d like to come in to chat about any IDEAL topic on your mind, large or small.

I look forward to seeing you all very soon at our Peace and Light Ceremony and wish you all a peaceful holiday season and New Year.


Janet, handwritten, in script

Janet Wolfe
Head of School
The IDEAL School of Manhattan

Several adults sit at a long table. One is talking  to the others, another stands and listens.

Parent Workshop

On Tuesday, October 15, anti-bias educator and school consultant Sara Wicht led a workshop titled Building Family and Community Engagement with IDEAL families. The interactive meeting introduced foundational pieces of anti-bias, social justice teaching that will apply to our family and community engagement.

Attendees had an opportunity to think about their own intersectionality and the intersectionality of their children and how current routines and learning goals lean on strengths and grow challenges. Families were introduced to IDEAL’s goals with regards to the social justice domains: Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action, which teachers have been exploring and embedding within and across the curriculum.

Ms. Wicht has been facilitating training and planning conversations with IDEAL faculty and staff since August to support our school’s social justice practice. She engaged with small groups of faculty on Tuesday and led a full faculty meeting on Wednesday afternoon, building on her work with parents.

Ms. Wicht provided her slideshow for parents who were unable to attend. Download it here. You can learn more about Sara Wicht here.

A mother holds her child who has face paint and holds white and blue balloons. They are at a professional soccer match.

Soccer Fundraiser Scores a Goal for IDEAL

Many thanks to IDEAL parent Matt Steinberg, who organized An IDEAL Day of Major League Soccer last Saturday, September 14. Over 80 members of the IDEAL community came together to watch the New York City Football Club defeat the San Jose Quakes. IDEAL students took the field for photos at halftime and again after the game when they were able to kick a goal! To cap off the day, team players signed autographs and stood for pictures with our group. The fundraiser earned more than $4,000 for the Pioneer Fund in a great kickoff to the giving season. See photos from the day on Facebook.