IDEAL in the News

On May 5, 2020, Head of School Janet Wolfe was interviewed for a Business Insider article where shared the IDEAL vision of education in the future. Thanks to our teachers for the ways they have individualized and differentiated our program for distance learning and to our families for keeping our community strong, though we are apart.
Screenshot on an online article titled The end of campus life



A Zoom meeting screenshot of a class with teachers and students, some in superhero costumes

Notes from the Head of School, May 2, 2020

Dear IDEAL Community:

Thank you for your support for the excellent work of our faculty and staff and for the thoughtful feedback you have shared in conversations and surveys. We continue to learn and grow from our partnership with you and from our conversations with our faculty. IDEAL’s successful shift is a testament to our school’s mission-based commitment to inclusion and differentiation.

As you have most likely heard, yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the closing of all schools statewide for the remainder of the school year. Although I am deeply disappointed that we will not gather together again in person this year, I am grateful for the powerful school spirit that has kept our community strong over the past six weeks. I know that the same IDEAL spirit will continue to lift us up as we join together virtually to celebrate our school’s cherished spring traditions, from our Civil Rights Museum and ArtBeat in May to our Moving Up Ceremony and Graduation in June.

Anticipating the likelihood of Governor Cuomo’s announcement, our faculty and administration have already begun planning virtual iterations of our school’s spring traditions. As we plan a virtual Moving Up Ceremony and Graduation so that we acknowledge these important rites of passage in real-time, we are also eager for the suggestions of our fifth and eighth grade students, our seniors, and their families, to guide us in planning specific celebratory events honoring each of these capstone years. We will be sending a survey to families with students in the fifth and eighth grades, as well as scheduling a Zoom meeting for Senior families to discuss virtual and live options for celebrations, now and once restrictions are lifted.

Of course, along with planning for a joyous and meaningful culmination of our current school year, we are already engaged in conversations to prepare for the school’s opening next fall. I am closely following updates from the New York State Department of Education, which is forming a task force to examine all topics around a safe reopening. We are also engaged in close conversation with other NYSAIS member schools and will continue to update you as state guidelines emerge and our own plans and protocols take shape. Although I imagine that some aspects of our school life may look different when we return, IDEAL’s mission, traditions, and, most importantly, our exceptional students will always distinguish and unite us.

Friday afternoon, just after Governor Cuomo’s announcement, the seniors and I Zoomed for our weekly virtual lunch. They impressed me, as always, with their resilience, empathy, and leadership. For the upcoming week, the seniors have planned a second IDEAL Spirit Week, with designated daily themes to inspire our community. I am especially excited about the seniors’ plans for Class Color Day on Wednesday when each grade will be assigned a color of the rainbow to feature in their clothing (think ROY G. BIV!). See The Buzz for the details. Together, the class colors will form a rainbow, reminding us of the promise, peace, and power of IDEAL’s inclusive community.

Finally, I hope many of you will join my son Teddy and me on Tuesday evening, from 8-8:30 PM, for our second weekly Lower School Pajama-Time Read-Aloud. This week, we will be joined by IDEAL alum Max Rubin ‘18 and several members of our current eighth grade class. For those with family and friends suffering from COVID-19, my thoughts are with you, and for all who would like to discuss their experience with distance learning, my virtual door is open.


Janet, handwritten, in script

Janet Wolfe
Head of School
The IDEAL School of Manhattan 


Three student drawings--a colored floral illustration, butterfly mandala, and message to healthcare workers

Earthfest is the First Virtual Assembly

On Friday, April 24, Lower School students, faculty, and families celebrated the annual IDEAL Earthfest virtually. Students were happy to join together again for our first virtual Lower School assembly and enjoyed sharing things for which they are grateful. The assembly also featured a video interview with botanical artist Nancy Blum, who visited Mr. Lomas’s High School class and donated her artwork as coloring pages. Although we couldn’t gather in the park, Mr. Arrington’s sixth graders performed our traditional reading of The Great Kapok Tree. Ms. Digges led the group with a mindfulness exercise and then again for the school song. Students were also excited to see Dr. Heffron and her baby, Sydney Rose! Please see the collection of Earthfest art in this Facebook album.


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