Signature Programs

High School


All Upper School students meet twice daily in a small advisory group, co-led by two faculty members. Advisors will watch over and foster the social, emotional, and academic growth of their students, acting as personal, in-school advocates and coaches. Daily morning and afternoon advisory provide time for students to organize their work and for advisors to check in with their students. Weekly advisory blocks, held on Wednesday mornings, engage students in a mindfulness curriculum and other social and emotional skill-building activities. Advisors also serve as a first point of contact for parents, partnering proactively to ensure all students are fully engaged and thriving in the IDEAL community.

Common Sense Media Supporter School

IDEAL is an official Common Sense Media Supporter School. Common Sense Media a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children thrive in a world of media and technology by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of technology as a positive force in their lives. Common Sense Media provides professional development and resources for faculty and weekly tips for families to provide guidance for navigating and engaging with today’s social media in a safe and productive way.

Community Time

Student-led assemblies occur bi-weekly, on alternate Thursdays after lunch, and alternate with club time in our schedule. Assemblies will include eighth grade IDEAL Talks, announcements, and presentations by outside speakers. On the first day of school, we will run a special schedule, including an assembly in which students will learn about opportunities to propose and lead clubs and to run for student council. Community Time (formerly known as Town Meeting) occurs on Wednesday afternoons and is focused on our diversity and ability curricula and on our social justice programming.

Diversity Curriculum

Our unique Diversity Curriculum is a core component of multicultural education at IDEAL. IDEAL’s Diversity Curriculum gives students the critical thinking skills they need to solve problems in their own lives, in their local communities, and on a global scale, through the following programs and instruction.

Ethics Curriculum

Each month at IDEAL, we focus on a different core value that we believe is essential for developing ethical citizens, such as Respect, Compassion, Peace, and Justice. Teachers are encouraged to build grade-specific curriculum units and service learning projects around these core values. School events and traditions are linked to these core values, and they are organizing principles that contribute to the other aspects of our Diversity Curriculum, such as Community Time discussions and student assembly presentations.

IDEAL talks

Identity Curriculum

IDEAL students begin in Kindergarten and continue throughout the grades to learn about themselves while empowering their unique identities, as well as the myriad identities in their classroom communities. Students develop a positive sense of who they are and a genuine feeling of belonging, a feeling that that they are valued and respected as part of a community. They also understand how their identities impact the larger community.

Each month, the core values that we emphasize are linked to major identifiers, such as gender, ability, class, race, sexuality, and intersectionality. These identifiers are explored in structured activities and conversations about related current events, and they are celebrated in student assemblies. Identity is also explored on an ongoing basis throughout the curriculum, including social studies and history units, reading assignments, Life Skills course work in the upper grades, and creative arts units and projects.

One Schoolhouse

The IDEAL School of Manhattan is a member of the One Schoolhouse Consortium. Membership in One Schoolhouse allows us to expand our High School course offerings. Upper-level electives offered through One Schoolhouse include Psychology, Latin 1, Marine Science, This I Believe: Activism in the Age of Disenfranchisement and Extremism. Through One Schoolhouse, IDEAL will also offer Advanced Placement (AP) classes including AP Spanish Literature & Culture and AP Music Theory. Summer transition classes include classes such as Summer Geometry. Girls can also take single-gender online classes through The Online School for Girls, now a subsidiary of One Schoolhouse. Students interested in taking a One Schoolhouse class and who meet the minimum course prerequisites are encouraged to see the Head of School for an application.

Social justice and anti-bias instruction

Through social justice and anti-bias instruction, students are taught to be aware of bias and injustice, both individual and systemic; to understand the short- and long-term impact of injustice; and about those who have fought for more fairness and justice in our world. Guided discussion provides opportunities for students to engage in dialogue in which they share feelings, experiences, and insights in response to structured lessons and about current events. Students are encouraged both to share their own ideas and to respond to the ideas of a classmate. Students are taught how to discuss issues respectfully with people who might not share their opinions--an important skill that will serve them their entire lives. Social justice topics also provide opportunities for collaboration toward a common goal. Our focus on social justice gives students the critical thinking skills they need to solve problems in their own lives, in their local communities, and on a global scale. IDEAL students see their potential to effect change and are equipped with the tools to be advocates and upstanders.

Although social justice and anti-bias instruction is infused throughout the curriculum, dedicated Community Time in each division focuses on diversity, identity, and social justice programming. Community Time in the Lower School brings students together weekly to have age-appropriate discussions about current events and social justice topics, strengthening students’ awareness of the wider world. In the Middle and High Schools, Community Time occurs bi-weekly and includes student-led discussions of current events and social justice issues, cultivating student leadership, voice, and confidence. By leading the agenda and presenting in front of their peers during Community Time, students grow their confidence and strengthen their own self-advocacy skills, while practicing respect for diverse perspectives of their peers and teachers. Community Time supports students’ own journeys of learning how to be critical thinkers and to form and express their own opinions.

Social justice and anti-bias instruction are also incorporated into assembly themes and the Identity Curriculum. It is part of social studies and history teaching, as well, where it is a natural fit to study the history of social injustice, social movements, and social change and to connect it to the present. Our annual, school-wide Civil Rights Museum weaves interdisciplinary units in each grade focused upon specific historical periods of injustice, related social movements, and the human and civil rights activists who effected social change, such as Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malala Yousafzai. The Civil Rights Museum features dynamic, interactive student exhibits such as music videos, films, and news reports that are the result of weeks of student learning, research, collaboration, and cross-curricular planning with classroom teachers and the music, art, dance, and theater teachers. At IDEAL, we believe that exposing students to the wide range of responses to injustice, including advocacy and activism, encourages students to themselves become agents of positive change.

Project Rise (Research, Internship, and Service Experience), our signature three-year High School service project, includes a semester-long class focused on the challenges faced by various populations in New York City, research related to and combined with community service in an area of interest, and a capstone project and presentation to the school community.