2 Children holding cotton candy are dancing with another child at a block party

From the Head of School: On Leadership

Dear IDEAL Families:

It was wonderful to see so many of you at Rock the Block, our fourth annual Block Party. I am grateful for the time and talent so many families and staff contributed to making it a great success. The spirit of volunteerism and shared leadership among families, faculty, and administration that distinguishes our Block Party is an essential feature of IDEAL.

This year, the Block Party was also a particularly strong reflection of student leadership. IDEAL’s Got Talent featured Lower and Upper School students performing and presenting with confidence and joy. For the first time, Upper School clubs and student groups took on the responsibility of planning tables and activities to raise money for our school. 

Beyond the Block Party, we are continuing to enhance opportunities for student leadership in both divisions. In the Lower School, for example, the fifth grade led the school in selecting and announcing Spirit Week themes this year. They polled Lower School teachers and students, analyzed the results, and revealed the chosen themes in a dramatic Friday Assembly presentation. In Middle School, students have been busy preparing for the Science Expo on November 5. The High School Prom and Dance Committee is actively fundraising, the Student Government Association is tackling new topics post-Spirit Week, and members of the Yearbook Club are working as a team to capture and record the life of the school. 

Behind the scenes, it is the dedication, initiative, and teamwork of our faculty that inspires the development of our students’ leadership skills and supports the ongoing growth of our school. Our faculty model creative leadership and an inclusive community by teaching differentiated lessons and fostering open dialogue, perspective-taking, and problem-solving skills. Faculty engagement in professional development led to our decision to hire Sara Wicht as our Diversity Consultant. Programs such as the introduction of IDEAL’s inaugural chapter of the International Thespian Society and a revamped schedule of activities in Extended Day are the direct result of staff vision and implementation. In February, IDEAL will host the first multischool Upper School Coffee House; this open mic performance, organized by members of IDEAL’s administrative team and faculty, will bring together student performers and attendees from a small group of Upper West Side schools. A multischool service-learning experience is also in the works for April.

As we continue to explore mission-appropriate leadership opportunities in IDEAL’s High School and 18-21 Programs, the Board and administration together are focused on developing internships that allow students to gain hands-on experience in areas that foster their passions and interests and pave the way for their futures. Internships will also cultivate critical executive functioning and interpersonal skills. We are eager for your help in identifying internship opportunities for our students. If you are interested, please see this linked letter and form and feel free to contact Assistant Upper School Head Emily Kuntz, or me. 

Thank you again for your leadership as families. We appreciate your participation in the work of the Parents Association and the insights and feedback you share in conversations during Parent Coffees, PA meetings, and Family Education Evenings. Your commitment makes our school IDEAL. I look forward to spending time with Lower School families at the Family Fun Food Night on Friday, November 15, and the Upper School play on Thursday, November 21. 

Best wishes,

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.

Two young, male IDEAL students with hands on hips and a tree in the background

This article by Katelin Walling was published in the March 2019 edition of Big Apple Parent.

The IDEAL School of Manhattan Provides an Inclusive Learning Environment with a Focus on Social Justice

At this inclusive, independent school on the Upper West Side, children with special needs learn alongside their neurotypical peers.

The IDEAL School of Manhattan, a coed, independent school on the Upper West Side provides an inclusive learning environment for its students. Plus, with a focus on social justice and service learning, students learn the importance of celebrating everyone's differences. 

"Both my children have a real strong understanding of people’s differences…and how everybody is stronger when they’re all working together,” says Jeff Frank, father of Milo, a fifth-grader, and Eira, a first-grader, who are enrolled at The IDEAL School of Manhattan, located on the Upper West Side. He credits their understanding to the school’s community and educational philosophy.

The IDEAL School is an inclusive, coed, independent school for kindergarten through 12th grades. It was founded by three families of children with Down syndrome who wanted their children to learn alongside neurotypical peers, according to Joseph Kemp, director of communications for The IDEAL School.  

While neither of Frank’s children have Individualized Education Programs, he says they both needed a little extra instruction, which they weren’t getting at their previous school. When he and his wife were looking for a new school for their children, “IDEAL became an ideal choice because we really enjoyed the idea of having an individualized learning center, so every child is working at their own pace regardless of their obstacles or their learning needs,” Frank says.

The IDEAL School of Manhattan reinforces the message of inclusivity through its social justice and service learning programs. “Inclusion becomes, essentially, a civil rights issue, so I think it makes sense that their social justice curriculum is very much at the center of their emphasis on inclusion,” Frank says. “All the messages that you would teach in inclusion about respect, about communication, about cooperation, all of those things lend themselves to the social justice curriculum. …It teaches children that they have to support each other and be allies even when the issue isn’t affecting them directly.” And it’s something he says his children have internalized.

“Even more so than my wife’s and my appreciation for IDEAL, I think my children love it most. They look forward to going to school every day,” Frank says. “When my son first visited IDEAL, he walked away saying, ‘I feel like these children are just like me, these are my people.’”