Who We Are
Formal education has traditionally been a process of imposing a preexisting curriculum on the child. At Muscota New School, the curriculum starts with the child and the child’s unique interests and goals. As a dedicated progressive education school, we tailor our teaching to the individual needs of our students by infusing real-world learning opportunities into all aspects of the curriculum. Teachers act as guides, using the students’ individual and collective interests to encourage their appetite for learning.
Who We Are:
Muscota is a non-zoned, District 6 elementary school of choice, serving children in kindergarten through 5th grade. Formed in 1993 by a group of Washington Heights and Inwood teachers and parents, the Muscota program became a New York City Department of Education public school in 2005 as P.S. 314, Muscota New School. Reflecting the vibrancy of our upper Manhattan community, Muscota has a diverse population with families from New York City, all over the United States, and the world.
Our faculty includes 12 classroom teachers, an ESL teacher, and four arts teachers in the areas of drama, visual art, dance and music. Our Guidance Counselor helps students with personal and social development as well as making the leap to middle school. Throughout the year, teachers identify the needs of each student through observation and authentic assessments. Teachers meet frequently with students and with both the student and their family to discuss the student’s particular needs and strengths. Together the student, with their family and teacher, sets individual goals which can range from being able to accomplish a physical task on the playground to an ambitious multi-faceted research project. In the classroom, teachers then modify instruction for each “Muscota scholar” to support those who need extra help and to challenge those who are ready to go farther to meet their goals. Instead of letter grades, twice yearly students receive comprehensive written evaluations from their faculty.
As an established institution, Muscota is recognized as a model for progressive education. Student teachers from Bank Street, New York University, Fordham University and City College come to Muscota to learn how progressive education is applied in our classrooms. Muscota trains “aspiring” principals from The Leadership Academy in our best practices.
All classrooms use school-wide thematic units of study, 4 to 6 week interdisciplinary projects based on an essential social studies theme which connects all core subjects to the arts, community service, nutrition, wellness, and environmental education, and culminates with our weekly “town meetings” and annual Muscota events. All students are expected to read every night, or be read to, and keep a reading log. Students in upper grades keep a science journal.
The Muscota campus is not limited to the walls of the building; scholars are encouraged to take advantage of one of the greatest cities in the world. Current partnerships include: Carnegie Hall, bringing additional music instruction into the classroom and field trips to Carnegie Hall; CHALK, Writopia; Skraptacular, a unique program to promote eco-sustainability, reduced waste, and smart consumerism; and Brain Gym and Bread and Yoga, integrating minds and bodies. Additionally, we offer our students frequent field trips, guest speakers, and performances. Some of our other collaborative partnerships include the Joyce Theater, CUNY Creative Arts Team and the NYC Shakespeare Festival, bringing to Muscota the best New York has to offer in the performing arts. Past relationships with the Salvadori Center, Wellness in Schools, and Chess in Schools have helped shape our curriculum.
Parents and families are a large part of the daily realization of Muscota’s mission. An active Parent Association raises money for school partnerships, initiatives, and time-honored Muscota traditions. Parent volunteers are involved in all aspects of the school, from chaperoning walks in the neighborhood, to reading stories out loud in the library, and opening milks in the cafeteria. Siblings are given consideration in the admissions process so that the whole family can be part of the community. The Muscota Parents' Association website can be found at Muscota.org.
Muscota scholars are not just learning about the world – they are in it.