a co-ed, independent, inclusion school for grades k-12


Senior Graduation Speeches from the Class of 2021

The members of the Class of 2021 named two students to speak at the graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 10. View their moving speeches in the video below.


Photo of six students moving their tassels during their graduation ceremony

Congratulations to the Class of 2021

For the first time since December 2019, IDEAL community members came together for a large gathering, one that begins a new, annual tradition. On Thursday, May 10, in the Sanctuary at B’nai Jeshurun, IDEAL seniors and their families were joined by the junior class and students in the Next Steps Transition Program, along with faculty and staff members, administrators, and trustees, to celebrate the fourth graduation of The IDEAL School of Manhattan. The graduation ceremony, for the first time independent of the Moving Up Ceremony that celebrates each grade level, included 13 students finishing twelfth grade and the first graduate from the Next Steps postsecondary program. 

Head of School Janet Wolfe thanked the students for their perseverance and leadership through the challenges of the pandemic, noting that the obstacles of the past year only made them stronger as individuals and as a team. Ms. Wolfe spoke about the group’s senior elective classes, where they studied American Sign Language, French 1, Global Health and Research, and Engineering and Design through One Schoolhouse, as well as their self-designed independent study courses including History of Black Music and Mental Health of Children During the Pandemic. As a team, they also guided the school through a process that concluded with the introduction of a new mascot, the fox, which will become a part of the school’s history for future generations. They raised over $1200, a school record, and made the generous decision to leave that money as a legacy for their classmates in the form of a senior lounge area.

The Class of 2021 added impressive new additions to the school’s list of college and postsecondary acceptances, including American University, Colgate University, Drexel University, George Mason University: The Mason Life Program, George Washington University, Mount Holyoke College, The New School, Savannah College of Art and Design, Syracuse University: Inclusive U, and the University of Denver. The strength and variety of this list underscore the tremendous achievements of each member of the senior class and the power of an inclusive education for all students. The seniors were accepted at over 61 different colleges and postsecondary programs and, collectively, have been awarded over $950,000 in scholarships, aid, and grants to fund their freshman years. 

Congratulations and best wishes to the newest IDEAL alumni!


2 screenshots from music videos

IDEAL Students Rock! 

IDEAL’s end-of-year events featured three music videos that showcase the power of an inclusive arts program, the talents of our students, and the dedication of our faculty members. Produced by Ms. Digges and Mr. Simbol and performed by students in each division attending school both in-person and from home, the videos are a testament to the resilience and creativity of our music teachers.  At our virtual Moving Up Ceremony on Friday, June 11, Lower School students sang “Possibilities” by Teresa Jennings, and Middle School students sang “Perfect Day” by Hoku Music. The video of “Better Days” by Ant Clemons and Justin Timberlake premiered at our in-person graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 10. Thanks to all of the student performers and, of course, to our music teachers and faculty members for doing so much work to make the pieces possible. The music videos can be viewed on the IDEAL YouTube channel and are linked in the song titles above.


Screenshot of a Zoom webinar with IDEAL seniors and administrators

Seniors Share Their Wisdom

On Friday, May 28, during the Upper School Pioneer Period, a panel of IDEAL seniors presented their experiences at IDEAL to their fellow students in a webinar. The questions and answers were designed to inspire and prepare younger Upper School students for life in High School and the college and postsecondary planning process. 
In addition to presenting topics from their senior electives, students spoke about the ways IDEAL has “broadened their horizons,” provided opportunities for them to “work harder than ever before” and to be “more open,” and encouraged them to adopt “the right mindset” when making difficult choices in the college and postsecondary process. This presentation reflected not only the growth but also the empathy, thoughtfulness, and leadership skills that they have contributed to IDEAL this year and throughout their time at our school. 
IDEAL Junior and Student Council president-elect Byron moderated the event. Our 13 IDEAL seniors have collectively received 61 college and postsecondary acceptances and earned over $950,000 in scholarships and financial aid for their freshman years. The seniors will accept their diplomas or certificates at IDEAL’s first stand-alone graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 10.


pictures of men opening oysters

May 14, 2021

Dear Friends:

I want to thank you for coming together in support of IDEAL and in recognition of the work of our faculty and staff this past year. It was wonderful to see so many of you on Zoom last night during our 16th Annual IDEAL G.A.L.A. 

Thanks to your tremendous generosity, the G.A.L.A. raised over $200,000 through raffle and Oysters + Wine package sales and contributions from IDEAL friends, families, faculty, and staff, and donations are still coming in. We are especially grateful for the 56 oyster or wine packages and 11 raffle tickets that were donated to faculty and staff. All proceeds from last night’s event go to the Open Door Scholarship Fund, supporting students currently enrolled in the Standard Program and helping their families afford an inclusive IDEAL education.

In case you missed the drawing, the winning ticket numbers for the raffle are, in order of drawing: 159, 228, 226, 533, 325, 296, 442. Congratulations to the winners!

Thank you to G.A.L.A. Committee members Jannette Lopez, Christine Mickletz, Fred Neuman, Tracy Nixon, and Audra Zuckerman, along with Jay Eisenhofer and the members of IDEAL’s Board of Trustees, for the creativity and hard work they put into reimagining our annual in-person tradition as a virtual event, complete with entertainment provided by IDEAL students and our new friends at De Gustibus Cooking School. I am proud to say that I opened quite a few oysters last night without a single mishap! I am also grateful for the hard work of several faculty members and administrators for their work behind the scenes, especially Jorge Chica, Maggie Conklin, Alyssa Digges, Joe Kemp, Emily Kuntz, Joanna Melendez, Will Simbol, and Zola Stennet. 

Thanks again to all who contributed to the success of IDEAL’s 16th Annual G.A.L.A. and to our honorees, our own frontline heroes, our faculty and staff, who made it possible, with our community’s support, to educate our students, whether at home or in-person, during this unprecedented school year.

Janet Wolfe
Head of School
The IDEAL School of Manhattan


IDEAL in the News

Head of School Janet Wolfe was interviewed for a CNBC.com article published on May 7, 2021, titled, "During Covid, more families switch to private school from public education," by Jessica Dickler.
Read and share the article here.


Screenshot of four IDEAL Middle School students inviting you to the Gala
Screenshot of four IDEAL kindergarten students inviting you to the Gala

Snapshots: Student G.A.L.A. Video Invitations

Middle School drama students invite friends and families to the 16th Annual IDEAL G.A.L.A. in this video. IDEAL kindergarten students invite you to the G.A.L.A. in this videoJoin the festivities on Thursday, May 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Support IDEAL with your donations or by purchasing raffle tickets.


Photo of the Head of School handing out popsicles to students

Snapshots: Celebrating Earth Day

Lower School students paid tribute to the Earth in a number of ways leading up to April 22. Kindergarten, first, and second grade students planted flowers in pots they made in art class or decorated as service learning. In social studies, kindergarteners have been learning about community helpers at IDEAL. For their Earth Day service-learning project, the students decorated pots and planted marigolds to deliver to our IDEAL community helpers. First grade shared a series of videos they made in which they talk about the ways they will help protect the Earth. Third grade read the book Here Comes the Garbage Barge, by Jonah Winter. They learned the real-life history of a barge from Long Island carrying 3,168 tons of trash over 6,000 miles in 1987 and discussed ways to create less trash. Fourth graders created posters in art class. In lieu of our traditional, outdoor, Lower School assembly with a reading of The Great Kapok Tree, fifth grade students worked with Mr. Lomas to illustrate and narrate a reading for our families to watch at home.
Also on Earth Day, Ms. Wolfe surprised the Lower School with a lunchtime sweet treat! Ms. Wolfe wheeled a selection of popsicles to each classroom and introduced the students to Ms. Melendez, her new assistant. See photos in this Facebook album.


Kindergarten students sitting on a gym floor at an assembly

The IDEAL Scholarship

April 9, 2021

Dear Friends:

As you know, since the founding of our school in 2005, IDEAL has been dedicated to creating a student body that reflects the exceptional and dynamic diversity of New York City. Not only did our visionary founders create a school that expands the definition of diversity to include ability, but they also formed an educational community that opens doors to an independent school education and its hallmarks--small class size, low student-teacher ratio, excellent academics, an emphasis on the arts, and a student-centered approach to teaching and learning--to families who would not otherwise be able to afford these opportunities. 

Today, we are pleased to introduce The IDEAL Scholarship, a new, merit-based, scholarship opportunity created to expand the socioeconomic diversity of our school’s K-8 applicant pool by making it easier for families from across a broad spectrum of income levels to afford an inclusive IDEAL education. Recipients of The IDEAL Scholarship and their families will demonstrate a deep connection and commitment to our school’s mission and core values of Inclusion, Diversity, Excellence, Acceptance, and Leadership. 

The scholarship award for 2021-22 will be 75% of the Standard Program tuition, and the scholarship will renew annually until the recipient graduates from Grade 8, as long as they remain in good academic and community standing. This year, the school will award up to five IDEAL Scholarships for new applicants to the Standard Program in our Lower (Grades K-5) and Middle Schools (Grades 6-8), up to ten scholarships in all.

We are seeking your help in identifying families whose children would benefit from IDEAL’s nurturing and joyful atmosphere and from our inclusive educational program, inspiring academic and personal excellence. To learn more about The IDEAL Scholarship, please join us for our Professional Open House on Wednesday, May 5, at 9 AM.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Joanna Melendez, Assistant to the Head of School, at jmelendez@theidealschool.org.

Thank you,
Janet Wolfe
Head of School
The IDEAL School of Manhattan


Students in caps and gowns pose on a set of stone stairs

Notes from the Head of School

April 7, 2021

Dear IDEAL Families:

I hope that your Spring Break was restful, and you feel recharged and ready for the final months of school. I want to welcome our students back and share with you some dates and news for the coming months.

As we do at this time of year, I want to call attention to the many accomplishments of our 13 IDEAL seniors. New additions this year to the list of colleges and postsecondary programs to which our seniors and alumni have been accepted include American University, Colgate University, Drexel University, George Mason University: The Mason Life Program, George Washington University, Mount Holyoke College, The New School, Savannah College of Art and Design, Syracuse University: Inclusive U, and the University of Denver. Please see our website for the complete list. The strength and variety of this list underscore the tremendous achievements of each member of the senior class and the power of an inclusive education for all students. 

Over the course of this year, IDEAL seniors have participated in a variety of elective courses that also reflect their depth and leadership skills. Several students have pursued independent study courses through our membership in One Schoolhouse, a supplemental educational organization that provides courses and programs for students and adult learners. This year’s seniors are studying American Sign Language, French 1, Global Health and Research, and Engineering and Design Seminar, as well as designing their own independent study courses such as History of Black Music and Mental Health of Children During the Pandemic. Two seniors also participated in the Journalism Skills and Culinary Skills courses offered by our Next Steps Transition Program. Seniors will present their work to Upper School peers and families during the two final Pioneer Period assemblies on May 28 and June 4. We welcome Upper School families to join those presentations by Zoom.

I am pleased to announce that we will celebrate the accomplishments of our senior class in person this year. We have scheduled an outdoor graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Thursday, June 10, at 10:30 AM. The senior class and their families, as well as our High School students and faculty, will gather together at a socially distanced ceremony on 91st Street. The outdoor Senior Dinner will precede the ceremony on Thursday, June 3, at 6:30 PM. Please see the attached document listing these and other important spring dates, including the Fifth Grade Moving Up Assembly, the Eighth Grade Dinner, and the schoolwide Moving Up Ceremony. Senior families, please stay tuned for more information about graduation--we will be sending an update and invitations and scheduling a meeting for those who have volunteered for the decorating committee later this week.

Thank you,
Janet Wolfe
Head of School
The IDEAL School of Manhattan