Signature Programs

Lower School

Civil Rights Museum

Student life and instruction at IDEAL are deeply entrenched in our commitment to social justice, from both a historical perspective and as it relates to current events. Our whole school prepares for and participates in a Civil Rights Museum each year, which is the culmination of deep study of civil rights leaders and related civil rights concepts. Each grade level in the Lower School spends weeks studying changemakers and activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and Winona LaDuke. In the Middle and High School, students pursue individualized study and develop culminating projects surrounding inspiring leaders such as Gandhi, Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Malala Yousafzai. Inquiry-based learning opportunities allow our students to realize that activists are not defined by race, age, or gender - but rather by a desire to be part of creating a more just and equitable world.

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.


Each April, IDEAL Lower School faculty and students gather for our annual Earthfest Celebration in Riverside Park, our “backyard”, to share the work they have done on recycling and conservation initiatives and to express their appreciation for the earth through visual arts, music, and dramatic performance. Middle and High School students incorporate Earthfest activities into their Service Learning experiences, partnering with local environmental and conservation groups on projects that have direct, positive impact on our community.

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 Museum

Essential to our mission is the way we encourage all community members to bring their full identity to school every day. To celebrate the individual, students and faculty participate in an Identity Museum soon after the start of the school year. All members of the community showcase an artifact that represents an aspect of our identity. Students and faculty inspire one another with cultural traditions, hobbies, family structures, and secret talents.

Science Expo

Each year, students at IDEAL prepare for our Science Expo, an opportunity for them to showcase concepts they have learned in science through interactive, hands-on exhibits. In the Lower School, students work together to demonstrate their understanding of different aspects of a common theme from their explorations in science. In the Middle and High School, students are guided to pursue individualized and interest-driven projects, many with real-world applications.


ArtBeat is IDEAL’s annual art show and film festival, with school-wide exhibits of our students' creative endeavors displayed throughout both school buildings. Each spring, as the school year begins to wind down, our community takes the time to reflect upon and celebrate all that our students have accomplished throughout the year in the visual art department at IDEAL. All students in visual arts classes showcase a body of work, and students who participate in stop-motion labs have a film in the festival. IDEAL families tour our school art gallery as students highlight the motivation and techniques behind their work. Our authentic, gallery-opening style approach to ArtBeat provides an opportunity for students to display their skills and work, and student creations reflect each artist's creative spirit, courage, tenacity, and unique style of expression.

Units of Study for Reading and Writing

In the 2016-17 school year, kindergarten through fifth grade will be implementing the evidence-based, Units of Study for Reading and Writing, which were developed at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University. The units, which include a balance of fiction and nonfiction, will be delivered during reading and writing workshops as part of a balanced literacy program in each classroom. The workshop model includes direct instruction in large and small groups and in individual conferences. The overall goals are to build focus, stamina, and independence among our community of student readers and writers.