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visionary welcome.
university Many years in the planning, Columbia University
opened The School in 2003 to serve three central

partnership Recruit and retain top university faculty and staff by offering

an extraordinary educational opportunity for their children.

Provide the neighboring community access to a superlative

education through a need-blind admissions lottery.

Support the development of cutting-edge curricula and
pedagogical practices, attracting the world’s best K-8

The School at Columbia Welcome i

equity & excellence 1

faculty 7

students 19

parents 29

curriculum 39

co-curriculars 53

The School at Columbia Contents ii

equity &
Doesn’t every child deserve
a world-class education?

a harmonious community
Grade 5 students perform an the
Ode to Duct Tape (Materia Potens
et Adhaesiva) under the direction of
music teacher Rachel Klem. The School at Columbia Equity & Excellence 1
extraordinary learning at its best
In developing The School, Columbia University dedicated
itself to the proposition that excellence in education relies
fundamentally on the diversity of the student population,

and that every child deserves the chance to experience an
innovative education. 

The School at Columbia Equity & Excellence 3
“ Many schools strive for
an integrated curriculum
and diversity of students.
The School at Columbia
University is the one “
that is succeeding in its
- Dr. Sonia Ehrich Sachs – Parent Alumna

In its short history, The School has sent its graduates to the
finest high schools in New York City and beyond.

In 2009-10, Columbia provided

Eve Becker, Grade 8 English
more than $5 million in financial
• B.A. - Oberlin aid to neighborhood families with
• M.S. Ed. - Cambridge College
• Best-selling young adult novelist children at The School.
The School at Columbia Equity & Excellence 5
Can you imagine
classrooms in which
teachers are as
excited about learning
as their students?

The School at Columbia Faculty 7

personal top-tier educators
innovators The School’s faculty has taught in schools across the
country and as far away as Lancashire and Shanghai, bringing

with them a wide variety of experiences and cultural
perspectives. As broad-ranging as their backgrounds are,
teachers at The School share a commitment to knowing each
of their students as learners, and finding ways to complement

every learning style.

The School at Columbia Faculty 9
“ There are a few good
teachers at every school.
The difference here
is that every teacher is

- Marla Powell, Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Borrowing from the university model, The School

provides its faculty with a range of unique benefits—
including significant opportunities to participate in
professional development, sponsored research, and
academic collaborations with University partners—
designed to attract and retain gifted educators.

welcome to a
more than university-quality
Andrew Gardner, Intermediate Division
Educational Technologist

• B.A. - Wesleyan
• Harris Fellow at the Yale Child Study Center
have advanced • M.S. Ed. - Bank Street College of Education

• Apple Distinguished Educator
• Google Certified Teacher

The School at Columbia Faculty 11 7

“ I love working at The School
because of the energy and drive
of my colleagues. An informal
conversation can quickly turn
into an innovative lesson, unit, or
teachers who teach teachers
Julie Broderick, Grade 5
approach to teaching the very next
day. The students bring the same
• B.S. - The College of William and Mary
innovative energy to every lesson. ”
• M.S. - Georgetown University
Greg Benedis-Grab, Science Teacher • M.S. Ed. - Bank Street College of Education
• Founding Member, The Amistad Dual Language School
• Teacher for the Peace Corps in Tanzania
• Computer Programmer for Bloomberg • Adjunct Professor, Barnard and Bank Street Colleges
Financial Markets
• Adjunct Professor at Bank Street College
The School at Columbia Faculty 13
real-world instructors
Karen Blumberg and her colleagues in the educational
technology department have developed a vast array
of technology-infused units for The School. Children
work with basic robots in Kindergarten, do their first
programming in Grade 2, create podcasts, websites,
and digital movies in the Intermediate Division, and
by the Middle Division are incorporating social
networking and blogging into their investigations.

Karen Blumberg, Middle Division Educational Technologist

• B.A. - Bryn Mawr

• M.A. - Teachers College
• President, New York Consortium of Independent

School Technologists

state-of-the-art laptops and the

SmartBoards in every classroom
are seamlessly integrated into
students’ education.

The School at Columbia Faculty 15

“You have to create lessons from the perspective of a
seven-year-old. The more imagination they can bring
to the process, the more engaged they’re going to be.”

Johnny Chu, Grade 2 teacher

“My colleagues are smart and they’re well-educated.
But more than anything else and more than
anywhere I’ve ever seen, they are dedicated to When alumni are asked what they
student success on every level.”
– Laura Dignon, Grade 7 Science
miss most about The School, they
say it’s teachers who care deeply
about them.
The School at Columbia Faculty 17 7
A broad range of
perspectives leads to
better learning and
smarter problem-solving.
Wouldn’t it be great if all
student bodies were as
diverse as ours?

each unique, together complete

The year begins with an all-school assembly
celebrating our multi-generational, deliberately
diverse community.

The School at Columbia Students 19

unique more than diverse
Half of the students at The School at Columbia
University are the children of Columbia employees and
come from around the world. Half of the students are

from the neighborhood surrounding the university –
an equally diverse group. Together, they comprise
one of the most ethnically and socio-economically
diverse student populations in the nation.

The School at Columbia Students 21
39% of all students speak
a second language at home

student body: 500

18% African American
8% Asian/Pacific Islander
40% Caucasian
12% Latina/o
2% Middle Eastern
20% Multi-ethnic

It’s more than diversity.

It’s about creating a global
perspective for life.
The School at Columbia Students 23

“ We take kindness seriously.
– Lesly Brito, Grade 7

in being
Keane, in Grade
3, loves drama and
dance, and recently
wrote a book on golf,
another passion.

Tal would rather read

than anything else,
and taught his Grade
The School’s social and emotional learning 3 classmates a little
curriculum and many service learning projects all about the universe
serve to instill self-reliance and empathy in our during their nonfiction unit.

The School at Columbia Students 25

from many, a single
vibrant learning
From the moment children enter
the classroom, they become
part of a thoughtful, supportive
learning group. Students at The
School cherish one another’s
strengths, and work together to
develop their other skills.

The School at Columbia Students 27

What if a school’s
annual fund was a
collection of the best
and learning-enhancing

partners in learning
The School relies on engaged
parents to extend and enhance
the learning that takes place
during the school day. The School at Columbia Parents 29
support engaged & active
together The School’s parent body is unique. As Columbia faculty,
many are educators themselves and offer their expertise

and resources to The School’s teachers. The balance of the
parent body—all local to The School— is equally engaged,
and the result is unrivaled parent involvement.

The School at Columbia Parents 31

A devoted Parent Association has created school

wide events that are cherished parts of the academic
year, including a bi-annual, parent-directed talent
show, and the Rock-the-Block neighborhood carnival
staffed entirely by parents, including blitz chess
competitions and science experiments, alongside
rummage sales and rides.

More than anything else, parents are primary partners in the

enterprise of educating their children. Through curriculum Parents contribute to
the curriculum as well,
nights, parent-teacher conferences, in-depth bi-annual
narrative reports on each child, parent coffees with school
experts, and communications such as the Head of School’s teaching their native alphabets in Kindergarten
regular reflections on the world of education and life at The and sharing stories of immigration in Grade 3,
School, parents are provided with invaluable resources to among many examples.
support their children’s success.

The School at Columbia Parents 33

parents who bake
cupcakes - and
make comets
The School’s Science Inquiry Expo,
led by parents, featured nearly 40
professors and research scientists
leading family-friendly workshops on
topics ranging from DNA mapping
to astrophysics.

The School at Columbia Parents 35

“ I cannot recount the number of
times I’ve been moved to tears by
the richness of this experience.

I’m not talking about my child’s
experience. I’m talking about my
own as a parent.
kaleidoscope – Laura Strausfeld, parent

of families
The School’s parent diversity group created
an enormous mural made of photos of The
School’s families - a stirring reminder of
the range of families involved in creating
The School’s learning community.

The School at Columbia Parents 37

outdoor classroom
Teachers take students out into New York’s great
parks - Central Park, Morningside Park, and
Riverside Park are all within blocks - to teach
geology, zoology, meterology, and wellness, to

name a few.

Would you rather memorize it?

Or live it?

The School at Columbia Curriculum 39

integrate learning for living
real-life The School’s 104 faculty members work across eleven
disciplines - dance, educational technology, literacy and English,

mathematics, music, science, social and emotional learning,
social studies, Spanish, visual arts, and wellness - to create
an engaging and ever-changing curriculum that encourages
collaborative problem solving and deep thinking.

The School at Columbia Curriculum 41
asking questions that
lead to deeper learning
The School’s curriculum is centered on rich, developmentally
appropriate themes - moving from Self in Kindergarten
to The Quest for Social Justice in Grade 8 - that are
woven across disciplines. Teachers incorporate students’
interests and questions, working with their colleagues to
create learning experiences that immerse students in the
excitement of discovery.

The School at Columbia Curriculum 43

“ We’re constantly working to
create integrated investigations
in which children address
real mathematical problems,
Sabrina Goldberg, Grade 7 Math collaborate with partners, use a
• B.A. - Brooklyn College
• M.A. - Teachers College, Columbia University
• Ed.D. Teachers College, Columbia University
variety of strategies and methods,
and communicate their thinking

• Creator of The School’s Great Mathematicians to their peers and teachers.

– Renee McShane, Intermediate Division Math Liaison

The School at Columbia Curriculum 45


spanish + social studies + technology

science + social
and emotional
In each grade the disciplines come
together to illuminate concepts and
themes in which children have a voice,
not in what skills they will master, but
in what path they will take to discover
the idea and themselves.

The School at Columbia Curriculum 47

how do we create the best
learning environment for
each individual?
The School draws on the latest research in its approach to educating children, which
results in lively classrooms, frank discussions, and homework that doesn’t always
look familiar to parents. Head of School Annette Raphel explains:

THE LIFE 1. We rarely rely on textbooks because we think

ENDS information should be presented in ways that are relevant to children’s lives and
approached from the perspectives of many different disciplines.

2. Subjects such as math look very different from previous decades because
we value creative problem solving over simple

3. We ask that children work with others who may be at different levels because
we believe that children learn better when sharing their
knowledge and challenges with peers.

4. We discourage competition between children and

encourage children to compete against their own best efforts.

5. Gender and sexuality education begins in kindergarten and proceeds each

year in a developmentally appropriate manner so that children grow up
respecting the range of human experiences.
6. We encourage our families to spend time giving back to the neighborhood
because students learn about their power to change the world
one act at a time.
The School at Columbia Students 49
student to
teacher ratio

In The School’s Middle Division,

small classes and daily meetings
with advisors maintain both rigorous
standards and a caring learning community.

music for lunch anyone?

Students in grades K-5 have music and dance several times a week. In the Middle
Division, students choose the performing art they want to pursue each semester,
and then dance, sing, play an instrument, or act (among other choices) at lunch. The
Middle Division performs twice a year at Columbia’s Miller Theatre.

The School at Columbia Co-Curricular 51

putting it to work in the world
During Integrated Projects Week in March, students choose
a project to investigate with a small group of teachers and
students. Undertakings draw on the resources of Columbia,
the city, and beyond, offering opportunities to apply new
skills, deepen knowledge, build friendships, and make a
difference in the community.

The School doesn’t stop at the
classic disciplines when educating
students. What about the science
of sailing? The art of basketball?
The drama of the chessboard?
The poetry of poultry?

The School at Columbia Co-Curriculars 53

technology beyond the classroom
The School is preparing children for jobs that currently
don’t exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, and
solving problems that aren’t yet identifiable. Through stimulating
experiences such as Integrated Projects Week, author visits, trips

to Black Rock Forest, excursions to Columbia’s Medical Center,
and The School’s extensive After School Program, students gain
an appreciation of the ever-growing range of issues in the world
and their roles as problem solvers.


The School at Columbia Co-Curriculars 55

welcome to 21st
century education.

Students have their own laptops
beginning in Grade 2. Several times a
year, up until the end of Grade 8, they

every day
select and edit work they are proud
of and post their work to an online,
cumulative portfolio viewable by parents
and members of the community. This
documentation becomes critical to their
self-assessment as learners, an integral
part of The School’s curriculum.

The School at Columbia Co-Curriculars 57

adventure, you say?

nature untouched
The School is a member of the Black Rock
Forest Consortium and has access to its
spectacular 4,000-acre forest only 50
miles north of New York City. Beginning
in Grade 2, students visit the forest at
least once a year, working with scientists,
hiking, and when they enter the Middle
Division, camping.

The School at Columbia Co-Curriculars 59

extracurriculars that
offer more than medals
The School has 12 athletic teams — including
basketball, cross-country, lacrosse, track and field
history in the making
and soccer. Teams competing with independent Students from The School joined the rest of the Columbia University community to
watch the inauguration of alumnus Barack Obama on a giant screen set up for the
schools across the city, and are staffed by 18 coaches,
occasion on the Morningside Heights campus.
16 of whom have advanced degrees.

The School at Columbia Co-Curriculars 61