School Visits

Connecting progressive educators and their schools is a cornerstone of PENNY's mission. School visits are one way that we seek to deepen progressive practice, establish connections between teachers and schools, and build a community of reflective practitioners. School visits allow teachers to see progressive practice at work in other contexts, learn from colleagues about how the school arrives at their approach to learning, and take these observations and insights back to their own schools to frame ongoing learning design efforts. We believe that leaving the bubble of our own classrooms and schools and seeing what others are doing is an important step to broadening our understanding of instructional practice and strengthening community.

Our first cycle of school visits will take place on Friday, October 6, and Tuesday, November 7. The participating schools are listed below with a link to the sign-up page to schedule a visit.


Bank Street School for Children

The Bank Street School for Children is an independent, co-educational Nursery through 8th grade school in New York City. Recognized for its ability to nurture the creative, independent, and problem-solving talents of all children through an approach that emphasizes learning by doing. The school’s curriculum is experience-based, interdisciplinary, and collaborative, and students grow by making meaningful connections within the classroom and beyond. Graduates enter the world with a flexible mind, an openness to new experiences, and a strong sense of advocacy and social justice.

Brooklyn New School

The Brooklyn New School (preK-5th grade) is committed to academic and personal success for all students. We believe that children are creators of meaning in their own lives. They are naturally thoughtful and curious, and they work to gain understanding of the world they inhabit. When the adults who care for children foster this effort, children become life-long learners. Brooklyn New School students master concepts as active thinkers and doers. Math, science, social studies, art and music are integrated in hands-on exploration. Children study the city, the environment, history and culture. They learn to ask questions, use tools to measure, make estimates and draw conclusions about what they see and feel. Children learn their ties to other people, to the past and to the future. They become stronger readers and writers by using reading and writing as tools to carry out their investigations. Our inquiry based curriculum enables students to problem solve and to effect change. Students develop projects with teachers in and outside of the classroom. We are committed to education which stresses cooperation rather than competition. We are located at 610 Henry Street in Carroll Gardens.

Bronx Community Charter School

Bronx Community Charter School (BxC) is a small learning community founded on the principle that children learn best when they are active participants in their own learning. BxC is currently serving kindergarten through sixth grade, growing to kindergarten through eighth grade by 2018. Our students raise questions about the world around them, engage with a wide range of materials, and learn through their interactions with each other and all of the adults in the school community. Children learn to use their minds well, cultivating strong intellectual habits and skills to become self-directed learners with clear passions and ambitions.  Teachers know children deeply and develop powerful curriculum to meet the needs and interests of their students.  All members of our school community are committed to making thoughtful choices, advancing democratic values, and effecting change in the broader community.

Castle Bridge School

Castle Bridge is a progressive, dual language, inclusive and integrated school in Washington Heights. We opened five years ago as a District choice school. We now have our full complement of classes, pre-K through fifth grade. Except for the pre-K class, all of the classes are mixed age: K/1, 2/3,4/5. All children have one period a day of self- initiated work that we call project time. At this point we have 225 children and a staff of 45. Each class has two teachers and one paraprofessional, we are also grateful that we have a highly involved team of related service providers who help us meet the needs of this very diverse community. Castle Bridge 560 West 169th Street NY, NY Take the A/C or #1 train to 168th. Enter the building on 169th between Broadway and Audubon go to the set of doors that is down the flight of steps. Come up to room 301.

Ethical Culture Fieldston SChool

The Ethical Culture Fieldston School is a Pre-K to 12th grade progressive school founded in 1878 by Felix Adler, the founder of the Ethical Culture Society. The school's mission is rooted in the notion that "the ideal of the school is not the adaptation of the individual to the existing social environment; it is to develop individuals who are competent to change their environment to greater conformity with moral ideals" (Felix Adler).  To support the school's mission, we embrace ethical learning, academic excellence, and progressive education. Located on two campuses, the school serves just over 1700 students.

Greene Hill SCHOOL

Greene Hill School (GHS) is a progressive independent school for children ages four to fourteen. GHS was founded by parents and educators who envisioned an engaged and socially responsible community of active learners. Greene Hill School has small class sizes and staff dedicated to supporting children as they become confident in their abilities to explore, learn, demonstrate compassion, and be inspired. Our students are directly engaged with the world, from growing plants in their community garden to connecting with people who work and live in Brooklyn. We provide open-ended materials and experiences and emphasize inquiry in the classroom. Constructivism is at the heart of Greene Hill School’s approach to teaching. It is the theory that all people construct their own knowledge, developing meaning and understanding through experience and reflection. At Greene Hill School children consider themselves as part of a larger community, whether it is their classroom, neighborhood or the wider world. They are attuned to how their actions impact themselves and others and use this lens as they investigate historical movements and relate them to contemporary times. Starting with a framework that examines social justice and is embedded in daily classroom life young children are encouraged to love and know themselves while practicing respect for others. They begin to tackle issues of social justice, ones that relate directly to their own lives and in developmentally aligned ways explore concepts like power, discrimination and social change. Part of this work is exploring historical and contemporary movements for social change and participating in awareness raising and social action in the school and wider community. We at Greene Hill understand that realistically it is a challenge to operate an independent school with low tuition rates, but are committed to a sliding-scale tuition so that Greene Hill School can be a viable option for members of our community without tuition being a barrier.

Little red School HOuse & Elisabeth Irwin High School

The Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, also referred to as LREI, was founded by Elisabeth Irwin in 1921 in Manhattan, New York City as the Little Red School House, and is regarded as one of the city's first progressive schools. Created as a joint public-private educational experiment, the school tested principles of progressive education that had been advocated since the turn of the 20th century by John Dewey. Now a preK-12 independent school, LREI is still guided by the belief that students learn best when they are engaged deeply in work that matters. That’s why our 14-year progressive program is rooted in a fundamental love of learning and a connection to the real world. Our teachers, experts in their fields, encourage children to use their curiosity, compassion and imagination to think deeply and to participate in finding solutions to real problems. As our founder Elisabeth Irwin put it, we “take students out of the classroom and into the world.” Almost a century later, we’re committed to keeping her progressive ideals alive. Visit us in Manhattan at 272 Sixth Ave (preK-8) and at 40 Charlton Street (9-12). We're accessible by the ABCD trains at West 4th Street and the 1 at Houston Street. We're thrilled to host visitors in any of our divisions and will coordinate the focus of your visit after you've registered.

lyons Community School

Lyons Community School provides a broad, stimulating experience in the liberal arts, preparing students, grades 6 – 12, for college, healthy adulthood, and life-long learning.The logo for Lyons Community School consists of three intersecting curves. Each curve represents one of our core beliefs about a good education: Being known, as a person and learner; Community and New Experiences and Ideas. We are a member of the New York State Performance Consortium where students engage in extensive Performance Based Assessment Tasks (essays, experiments, research) rather than high stakes exams. We are known for our school wide, and student led, Restorative Justice work.

Manhattan Country School

Reflecting the vision of the Civil Rights Movement, Manhattan Country School teaches students in a community with no racial majority and broad economic diversity. Our goals for students are academic excellence, intellectual freedom, social awareness, self-confidence and first-hand knowledge of the natural world. MCS is unique among New York City independent schools in having a 180-acre working farm integral to the curriculum and a sliding scale for tuition. Manhattan Country School envisions its students as future leaders whose shared experiences in learning and activism inspire them to champion excellence and justice, compassion and peace, and the rights of all people to racial, economic, environmental and educational equity. At Manhattan Country School, students in pre-K through eighth grade are members of a collaborative learning community that has been a model for both progressive education and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic diversity since our founding in 1966. Whether in our New York City classrooms or at our farm in the Catskill Mountains, students participate in a robust program that fosters critical thinking, curiosity, individuality and a sense of purpose; provides a deep understanding of our multicultural world; and instills a life-long love of learning.

The neighborhood School

The Neighborhood School was founded in September 1991, designed to meet an expressed need for a progressive approach to educating the children of our community. Our school has 13 classes spanning pre-kindergarten to 5th grade. Our classes are grouped in multi-age configurations to allow each child to develop both academic and leadership skills.  This also allows the children and teachers to know each other and work together over a longer period of time.  Over half of our classrooms are Integrated Co-teaching classes (ICT); students with disabilities learn alongside general education students who don't have learning disabilities or special needs. We believe that children learn best through first-hand experiences with people, materials and places. Trips are an important part of the curriculum, along with the use of concrete materials, dramatizations and simulations as ways for children to recreate the themes and concepts they are studying.  Children explore and make hypotheses and discoveries of their own. Teachers provide a program rich in relevant, meaningful and functional experiences. In-depth studies of themes integrate language arts, thinking, science, social studies, mathematics, physical education, and the arts. Classroom work is conducted collaboratively so that children learn to work with others cooperatively in social groupings.  We help children to develop good habits of mind, to think creatively and analytically. We want our students to develop fully as individuals, and also as cooperative, responsible members of a group. School wide policies and practices are formed collaboratively and dynamically to provide a cohesive, unified, thoughtful environment for children. We are self-reflective and reevaluate our policies periodically in an effort to meet the needs of our children and ever evolving community. The Neighborhood School is located in the Lower East Side at 121 East 3rd Street, between Avenue A and 1st Avenue.  We are a short walk from the F train's 2nd Avenue stop. The school's office is on the third floor.

School of the future Brooklyn

School of the Future Brooklyn is a small public middle school, founded on the theories and practices of School of the Future in Manhattan, located in Brooklyn's East New York.  We believe that progressive education starts in designing learning experiences that individualize learning for each student.  Our visit offers and opportunity to observe our one-on-one academic coaching program, and to see classrooms where students are actively practicing self-assessment and goal setting.