We are delighted you are interested in finding out more about Muscota New School. If you would like more information about Muscota, or have some issues to discuss, please feel free to contact us. Also visit the administration website, muscotanewschool.com.
We believe that our values and educational philosophy provide a solid background to all educational activities a child may choose to pursue. Visitors will get a feel for this learning culture by spending some time at the school. For information about admissions and tours, visit the "School Tours" page of the administration website muscotanewschool.com.
Go to our school procedures page for information about things like arrival, lunch, transportation, and what to do for school closings.
For a little light reading, download our 36 page Parent Handbook. It's a pdf.
To learn about Muscota's Arts programs, go to the Arts page.
The Muscota New School opened in September 1993, founded by a group of parent who wanted to bring the progressive model of education to northern Manhattan. The word Muscota means, "place in the reeds." This was the Native American name for the site along the Harlem River at the east end of Dyckman Street. P.S. 5, the school on this site, was the original home of our school. The school moved into the W. Haywood Burns building when it opened in 1996.
There are two separate schools in the building: Muscota and the Amistad Dual Language School. Muscota is a "school of choice" in District 6, meaning that families request admission based on characteristics of the program that suit the needs and interests of their children. There is no screening of students. Families may apply after touring the school. Enrollment for September is based on a lottery that looks to balance classes in terms of ethnicity, race and gender. The staff and principal work together, along with parent input, to design curriculum, class organization, and hire teachers.
We come together to build a strong community, of continuous growth and constant learning for all our participants.
We believe that education is a process conceived to benefit the learner; that the emphasis in education must be upon learning, rather than teaching. We ensure that all students are accepted as people first. Their feelings and ideas deserve consideration and their inquiries are given honest response. They are encouraged to question, discuss, and investigate the world around them-in fact; we believe it is a responsibility! We know that the desire to learn is deepened when the experiences are stimulating.
Learning about things is a natural part of a person’s development. We know that all children need to experience success in order to prosper, so we make sure that environments are academically diverse to reflect the multitude of learners in the classroom. We assert that education should strive to maintain the individuality and originality of the learner; learning to expand and respect the differences between individuals. Our educational philosophy is based on the ideas that a child’s own way of learning through discovery and inquiry is best rather than through abstract experiences, standardized tests, and textbooks.
We further believe that an individual must be allowed to work according to their own abilities, therefore we allow and encourage students to work at their own pace, while continuing to help the learner find their next steps. In this process, the teachers’ role is that of partner and guide, rather than as someone who knows all the answers, but as one who possesses the skills necessary to set an appropriate learning environment.
We strive to individualize our expectations of a student’s learning process while at the same time, be sure that students are exposed to a multitude of learning situations and expectations. The classroom itself an extremely limited environment and must be expanded so that the total culture surrounding our school becomes the learning environment. We seek to provide a structure in which students learn from each other, working cooperatively to realize that individual efforts can be combined to achieve a common effect.
We believe that the most important factor in implementing these ideas is the teacher and the quality and depth of the interactions between the teachers and learners, thus the minimum two-year commitments to our students in the form of looping. Our curriculum guides and maps contain sufficient latitude to provide the teachers with the necessary opportunity needed to meet the individual needs of students, while at the same time continuing to place emphasis on the minimum sets of standard set forth in the New York State Elementary School guidelines.
Muscota implements looping of grades, which is the practice of teachers progressing with the same students through two or more grades. Muscota students are placed with the same teacher for two years in a row: K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. This method enhances parent, student, and teacher relationships and maximizes academic achievement. Parents and students have demonstrated positive social, academic, and emotional advantages to looping, including improved student-teacher relationships, less anxiety, and improved teacher's understanding of students' strengths and weaknesses.
The staff uses "authentic assessment" tools to follow the growth of each child. Individual evaluation of progress is determined by close examination of a child's actual performance and observation of the child at work. There is a large collection of documentation prepared for each student. This is always available to parents and forms the basis of the teacher's narrative reports.
There are no regular tests, grades, scores or report cards in the traditional sense. Children in grades 3, 4, and 5 take standardized English Language Arts and Mathematics exams once a year. Preparation for these tests is included in our regular curriculum.
There is a weekly Town Meeting, which allows the whole school (12 classes and about 325 students) to meet as one community. The students, teachers, and administration of the school sing, share stories and information about what is happening throughout the school, and sometimes perform. Parents are invited to Town Meeting, as well.
Learn more about Muscota's arts programs.
FAQs has a longer explanation of progressive education in general, plus several links to relevant websites.
Families are kept informed about their child's development four times a year; there are two Family Conferences, one in November and another in March. Teachers prepare written narrative reports in February and June. Conferences always include the child, as she or he is the focus of all the work. A Progress Report is also sent home five times a year with information such as your child's reading level and math accomplishments. In addition, families and teachers may meet at other times throughout the year as needed. We believe that regular communication around the child's needs and progress plays a critical role in insuring that each child reaches his/her potential academically, socially and emotionally.
The principal keeps the community informed with updates on coming events issues of interest to our school. She maintains a blog on muscotanewschool.com and holds an informal chat session every month called Coffee with Camille. Teachers also write regular Curriculum Letters. The Parents Association (PA) meets monthly; there is also a system of Class Parents and Parent Reps in each class that help strengthen the work in the classroom and communication between the teacher and families. A School Leadership Team (SLT) operates as defined by the Chancellor's regulations to oversee budget and policy.
SCHOOL LEADERSHIP TEAM
For information about the current school leadership team, see the SLT blog. Here, you can also find the bylaws and minutes for meetings posted in pdf form.