History & Philosophy
Bank Street School for Children was founded in 1916 in New York City by visionary educator Lucy Sprague Mitchell as The Bureau of Educational Experiments, a laboratory nursery school staffed by teachers, psychologists, and researchers who worked collaboratively to discover the environments in which children grew and learned to their full potential and to educate teachers on how to create these environments in the classroom.
The Bureau set up shop at 69 Bank Street in 1930 and remained there until 1970, when it moved to its present location on West 112th Street. Today, Bank Street comprises a Graduate School to train teachers; a full program of children’s services, including the School for Children; and an array of outreach programs for educators and the community at large.
The School for Children is an independent demonstration school for Bank Street College and a working model of the College’s approach to teaching and learning. Education at the School is experience-based, interdisciplinary, and collaborative. The emphasis is on educating the whole child—the entire emotional, social, physical, and intellectual being—while valuing and reinforcing the child’s integrity as a learner, teacher, and classmate.
The School is divided into Lower (preschool – first grade), Middle (second – fourth grade), and Upper (fifth – eighth grade) Schools to accommodate the different developmental stages and curriculum needs of children. We offer a rich learning environment for students while providing the College with a setting for teacher training, educational research, and the development of curriculum materials.
The School is truly a “demonstration” school. It embodies all the principles of children’s growth and learning derived from Bank Street’s philosophy of progressive education and embodies the “ideal” representation of that philosophy in action. Thus, the School is the standard by which the College evaluates and attempts to improve education in other schools, particularly New York City public schools and school systems across the country.
The School for Children and the College have a common administration and share the building at 610 West 112th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.