Bank Street College of Education

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Bank Street College of Education
Bank street facade.jpg
Entrance to Bank Street College of Education
Established 1916
Type Private graduate school and school for children
President Shael Polakow-Suransky
Academic staff
Students 1,024 (2010)
Location 610 West 112th Street, New York, New York 10025, United States
40°48′20″N 73°57′59″W / 40.80556°N 73.96639°W / 40.80556; -73.96639Coordinates: 40°48′20″N 73°57′59″W / 40.80556°N 73.96639°W / 40.80556; -73.96639

Bank Street College of Education is a private, nonprofit educational institution located in Manhattan, New York City. The College includes a Graduate School, an on-site independent School for Children, professional development and social programs, and partnerships with school districts, colleges, museums and cultural institutions, hospitals, community service organizations, and educational media corporations.


Bank Street Graduate School of Education is accredited by the Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education (RATE) and by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.[1] It holds membership in the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of the State of New York, the Council of Higher Education Institutions in New York City, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the American Council on Education. Bank Street has also been accepted as a formal candidate for accreditation with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).[2]

Bank Street School for Children is accredited through the New York State Association of Independent Schools.[3]


Founding and Beginnings

Bank Street was founded in 1916 by Lucy Sprague Mitchell as the Bureau of Educational Experiments. (Mitchell was the first Dean of Women at the University of California, Berkeley). Influenced by the teachings of John Dewey, Mitchell sought to create a group of thinkers from different fields to study child development and to advocate for fundamental educational reform. With assistance from her husband Wesley Clair Mitchell and underwriting from her cousin Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Mitchell drafted a successful proposal for the Bureau of Educational Experiments.[4]

In 1918, a nursery school was opened at the Bureau's second location on West 12th and West 13th Streets (its original location had been on Varick Street). This nursery school is the direct predecessor of today's School for Children. Harriet Merrill Johnson was its first director and its graduates attended Caroline Pratt's City and Country School.[5]

Harriet Merrill Johnson, the director of the Bureau of Educational Experiments Nursery School.

The college gets its name from its former location on Bank Street in Greenwich Village, which the Bureau moved to in 1930 before relocating to the Upper West Side in the early 1970s. Also in the 1930s, Bank Street began to formally train teachers, the start of today's Bank Street College of Education.[6]

Cooperative School for Student Teachers

An image from a 1918 Bureau of Educational Experiments publication, "A Catalogue of Play Equipment."

The Bureau of Educational Experiments created the Cooperative School for Student Teachers in 1930, joining eight experimental schools for the purposes of teacher education.[7] A joint venture between the Bureau and eight other experimental schools, the Cooperative School ran classes, seminars, and conferences for teachers on Thursday through Saturday afternoons. The student advisement process, modeled after English university practice, selected a senior member of the faculty to oversee student teachers using personal and professional evaluations.[8]

In 1937, Mitchell formed a Division of Publications for the publishing of books for and about children, as well as the Writers Laboratory, a workshop designed to connect professional writers and Cooperative School students. One of its early members was celebrated American children's book writer Ruth Krauss, described by Maurice Sendak as "a giant" in her field of writing. The Writers Lab is now part of Bank Street's Center for Children's Literature.

Expansion of Bank Street College

In 1950, after certification by the Board of Regents of New York State to allow for the bestowal of Master's Degrees, the Bureau of Educational Experiments was renamed Bank Street College of Education. Also in 1950, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded Bank Street a $1 million grant to develop studies that focused on the school's efforts for the promotion of mental health. Four years later, the School for Children was officially founded. In 1965, Bank Street developed the Bank Street Readers line of books, unique because they featured racial diversity and urban people of contemporary culture. Additionally, in the 1960s, the Bank Street faculty played an important role in the creation of the federal Head Start program. By 1968, Bank Street was also involved in the design of Project Follow Through.

Center for Children and Technology

Students participate in a Logo programming class at the School for Children in 1983.

In 1980, Bank Street College President Richard R. Ruopp established what was at first called The Children's Electronic Laboratory, renamed to the Center for Children and Technology ("CCT") shortly afterwards. Its first Director was Dr. Karen Sheingold, a developmental psychologist who joined Bank Street with Ruopp from the Boston area, where Ruopp had worked for ABT Associates and Sheingold for Wellesley College. With seed funding from The New York Times Foundation, Ruopp & Sheingold began to envision projects that would enable the child-centered educational philosophy undergirding Bank Street College's programs since its founding in 1916 by Lucy Sprague Mitchell to be realized in an emerging era in which microcomputers such as the Apple II would be increasingly commonplace. Among the first projects to be developed were:

  • The pioneering 1984 Voyage of the Mimi multimedia series (print, video, and computer software) for learning math, science and computing developed by the Bank Street Media Group, led by ex-Sesame Workshop producer Samuel Gibbon, with formative research guidance from CCT researchers and piloting with the teachers and children in the Bank Street School. The 1984 series gave Ben Affleck his start in film acting at the age of 9. A second series called Second Voyage of the Mimi was produced in 1988. Both aired on many PBS stations with ancillary print and computer-based materials available with computer software and videodiscs for school uses.
Opening sequence from The Voyage of the Mimi.
  • The Bank Street Logo Project, funded by the Spencer Foundation from 1981-1984, entitled: "The Impact of a Classroom Computer Experience on Children’s Problem-Solving, Planning, and Peer Collaboration". CCT Director Sheingold and new Psychology Department recruit from Clark University Roy Pea were co-investigators of this project, and researchers Jan Hawkins and Midian Kurland joined the grant team to plan and conduct empirical studies of children’s learning with Logo programming in their Bank Street classrooms, whose teachers were prepared by Seymour Papert and his team from MIT. The 1987 book edited by Pea & Sheingold:[9] documents key aspects of many of these studies.

The Center for Children and Technology left Bank Street College to become a part of the Education Development Center in Cambridge Massachusetts in the early 1990s, although located at 96 Morton Street downtown.

Further Projects

In 1989, Bank Street became the lead organization to assist the federally-funded National Center for Technology in Education. In 2011, Bank Street would again become the lead organization to direct the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness, funded by the Office of Head Start. In 2002, the Carnegie Corporation created Teachers for a New Era,[10] selecting Bank Street as an inaugural partner in the five-year program for the research and recording of high-quality teacher education initiatives.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bank Street continued to launch comprehensive programs for underserved children in city schools, including the Liberty Partnerships Program and I-LEAD, Institute for Leadership, Excellence, and Academic Development. These two programs merged in 2005 to form Liberty LEADS: The Center for Leadership and College Preparation. Also in 2005, Bank Street created the Priscilla E. Pemberton Society, designed to provide scholarship funds for students and alumni of color.


Since its inception in 1916, Bank Street has had eight presidents, though Lucy Sprague Mitchell's title is disputed. They are:

Lucy Sprague Mitchell, 1916-1955

Though Mitchell founded the Bureau of Educational Experiments, she served only as the "acting president" of the college, choosing not to fully assume the title. During her extensive tenure at Bank Street, Mitchell defined the college's mission with a credo[11] still used by faculty and students today:

What potentialities in human beings—children, teachers, and ourselves—do we want to see develop?

  • A zest for living that comes from taking in the world with all five senses alert
  • Lively intellectual curiosities that turn the world into an exciting laboratory and keep one ever a learner
  • Flexibility when confronted with change and ability to relinquish patterns that no longer fit the present
  • The courage to work, unafraid and efficiently, in a world of new needs, new problems, and new ideas
  • Gentleness combined with justice in passing judgments on other human beings
  • Sensitivity, not only to the external formal rights of the “other fellow,” but to him as another human being seeking a good life through his own standards
  • A striving to live democratically, in and out of schools, as the best way to advance our concept of democracy

Our credo demands ethical standards as well as scientific attitudes. Our work is based on the faith that human beings can improve the society they have created.

John Henry Niemeyer, 1956-1973

As the first official president of Bank Street, Niemeyer looked to diversify the college and expand its academic reach, overseeing its move from Bank Street to Morningside Heights. In addition to consulting for the U.S. Department of Education on desegregation, Project Head Start, and Project Follow Through, Niemeyer worked closely with Bank Street's Research Division to target underprivileged communities in the city.

Francis J. Roberts, 1973-1979

Roberts' chief achievements at Bank Street included the creation of the Family Center and the Tiorati Workshop. During his tenure, Roberts sought to move Bank Street to the forefront of graduate education and to return its focus to reforming American schools.

Richard R. Ruopp, 1979-1988

Seeking to fit modern technology to the classroom, Ruopp oversaw the creation of the Center for Children and Technology and encouraged widespread use of microcomputers and videodisks. As an early childhood education specialist, Ruopp was particularly interested in funding and developing day care programs at the School for Children.

Joseph P. Shenker, 1988-1995

Formerly the president of LaGuardia Community College, Shenker worked to develop the division of public relations at Bank Street and sought funding for initiatives at the Graduate School and the School for Children.

Augusta Souza Kappner, 1995-2008

During her thirteen years at Bank Street, Kappner raised more than 26 million dollars in support of the college and assisted in the creation of a strategic plan to connect Bank Street's goals to contemporary issues in education.

Elizabeth D. Dickey, 2008-2014

Dickey arrived at Bank Street from The New School, bringing with her a desire to enhance educational policy research and increase underserved communities' access to education. Bank Street's online component, BankStreetOnline, was launched during her presidency.

Shael Polakow-Suransky, 2014-

Graduate School of Education[edit]

The Bank Street Graduate College seal.

Bank Street's graduate programs provide students with a thorough, rigorous, humanistic foundation for their careers in educations. The college seeks to prepare educators to find ways to make learning vital, active, and creative. Master's Degrees are offered in diverse fields, leading to careers in

Interactive courses are also offered by the office of Continuing Professional Studies for assisting with career change, training, or improvement. Courses are flexible, offered in a variety of formats with start dates throughout the year, and are taught by instructors who double as specialists and practitioners in the world of education and child development. Part-time schedules are also available for part of the graduate students' programs to assist those who may be teaching while earning a degree.

Students and teachers participating in the 1935 Long Trip, an initiative for teacher education centered on travel and socio-political exploration.

The college also offers CPS study abroad programs for working educators looking to gain experiences in different cultures, with current programs in Morocco, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Argentina.

Bank Street's online course component, Bank Street Online, looks to support the graduate school community's pioneering efforts in the field of education. Launched in 2010, Bank Street Online offers three master's degrees programs and a selection of certificates.

Admissions and Financial Aid

Bank Street offers admission to students who have completed an undergraduate degree at an accredited college or university, and who display specific interest in the field of education for children. Work experience is highly recommended, and admission is offered on a rolling basis. The college offers both internal and external scholarships, international student aid, federal direct loans, federal work study, and the TEACH Grant.[12]

School for Children[edit]

Children playing on the roof at the nursery school at 69 Bank Street, the direct predecessor of the School for Children.

The Bank Street School for Children, a NYSAIS[13]-accredited independent school, includes a Lower, Middle, and Upper School, in addition to After School programs and a Summer Camp. Founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell's experiment-based curriculum for kindergarten through sixth grade highlighted connections between the classroom and the outside world, a model that the School for Children continues to work with today.[14]

Admissions and Financial Aid

School for Children admission is offered to students at all grade levels. The application process includes a required parent tour and interview as well as a "playdate" or interview for the applicant.[15] Financial aid awards are given with regards to a variety of different factors, such as assets, parental income, and extended-family support. Approximately 30% of School for Children families receive financial awards, with $2.8 million in financial aid provided to these families in 2014.

Academics, Arts, and Athletics

Arts and language play a large curricular role at School for Children. All Lower School students are exposed to Spanish through interactive lessons, and music instruction is offered in the form of singing, dancing, and percussion instruments.[16] Children are introduced to the art and shop studios in middle school and receive instrumental music instruction influenced by the philosophy of Kodaly and the Orff approach while continuing their studies in Spanish.[17] Upper School students may elect to continue studies in Spanish or begin studies in French, receive heightened exposure to the visual arts with advanced studies in composition, and begin study the field of music history.[18] Social Studies, Literature, Mathematics, and Science are all offered uniformly across the three schools.

Upper School students may also elect to participate in interscholastic sports, including volleyball, junior varsity and varsity soccer, running club, junior varsity and varsity basketball (boys' and girls' basketball), and softball.[19]

Head Start[edit]

John H. Niemeyer, Bank Street's first president (1956-1973) and a consultant to the United States Office of Education.

An agency funded by the Office of Head Start in the Administration for Children and Families, Bank Street Head Start combines college policy on early childhood education with the benchmarks advanced by the New York State Prekindergarten Learning Standards. 68 children and families are provided with a free, comprehensive educational program designed to meet their cognitive, social, emotional, health, nutritional, and psychological needs, with eligibility based upon income and residency.[20]

Bank Street's Head Start initiative began in 1964 shortly after the Civil Rights Act was passed. Earlier in 1964, Bank Street president John H. Niemeyer had been asked to work with southern universities to create desegregation programs. Faculty at Bank Street were tasked with creating regulations for Project Head Start, and the first Head Start concept paper, written by staff in the United States Office of Economic Opportunity, pointed to Bank Street's classrooms as a model for Head Start classrooms. Bank Street officially began program activities in 1965 with the creation of the 42nd Street Early Childhood Model Head Start Training Center, which ceased operations in the 1970s. Head Start programs were revived at Bank Street in the 1990s, and today's program operates in the East Village.[21]

Center for Children's Literature[edit]

Bank Street's Center for Children's Literature seeks to recognize and provide access to high quality literature for children of all ages.[22] Its components include:

The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature

Irma Simonton Black, for whom the Irma Black Award was named.

Named for author and educator Irma Simonton Black, an alumna of the Bureau of Educational Experiments and the head of Bank Street's Division of Publications and Communications until her death in 1972, the Irma Black Award is given annually to an outstanding children's book whose quality is a product both of its exemplary text and illustrations.[23] Children in classrooms throughout the United States are asked to decide the winner through discussion and voting.[24] The winning book receives a gold seal, while three other books are selected as honorable mentions and receive silver seals. Both seals were designed by children's book author Maurice Sendak. The award is then presented at a breakfast ceremony held in New York City each May and attended by authors, illustrators, publishers, teachers, librarians, and alumni and friends of Bank Street College.

The Maurice Sendak-designed seal for the Irma Black Award.

Notable winners and honorees of the Irma Black Award, both authors and illustrators, include:

The Cook Prize

The Cook Prize, created in 2012 and funded by the School Library Journal, is awarded annually to an outstanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) picture book for children aged eight to ten. Named for Bank Street educators Don Cook and Michael Cook (from the Graduate School and the School for Children respectively), it is the only prize to honor a STEM book for children in the United States.[25] Like the Irma Black Award, the winners—two from a field of sixteen—are decided through voting and discussion by children across the nation. Notable winners and honorees, both authors and illustrators, include:

Edith Thacher Hurd and Margaret Wise Brown, Writers Lab members.

Writers Lab

The Bank Street Writers Lab, founded in October 1937 by Lucy Sprague Mitchell, provides a nurturing atmosphere for published children's book authors to read and critique each other's works.[26] Notable past members include Margaret Wise Brown, Ruth Krauss, Edith Thacher Hurd, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Maurice Sendak.

Children's Book Committee

The Children's Book Committee, founded in 1909 as part as the family life education program of the Child Study Association of America, creates and circulates lists of recommended literature for children specific to the requests of parents, organizations, and communities. After the Child Study Association's disbanding in 1977, the Committee became part of Bank Street.[27] Today, it comprises forty volunteer members who work to compile and edit the booklists. The Committee also awards three prizes: The Josette Frank Award for fiction, the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for nonfiction, and the Claudia Lewis Award for poetry.[28]

Notable Graduate School alumni[edit]

Shael Polakow-Suransky '00, current president.

Notable School for Children alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Bank Street College of Education". Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Candidates for Accreditation". National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bank Street School for Children". New York State Association of Independent Schools. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ Perryman, Anne (2000). A Brief History: Bank Street College of Education. Bank Street College of Education. 
  5. ^ Perryman, Anne (2000). A Brief History: Bank Street College of Education. Bank Street College of Education. 
  6. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (November 30, 1997). "Richard Ruopp, 65; Led Bank Street College". New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ "A Brief History". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  8. ^ Perryman, Anne (2000). A Brief History: Bank Street College of Education. Bank Street College of Education. 
  9. ^ Pea, Roy (1987). Mirrors of Minds: Patterns of Experience in Educational Computing. Ablex. ISBN 9780893914233. 
  10. ^ "Teachers for a New Era: Transforming Teacher Education" (PDF). Carnegie Corporation. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Mission and Credo". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Financial Aid". Graduate School of Education. Bank Street College. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Bank Street School for Children". New York State Association of Independent Schools. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Lucy Sprague Mitchell: Champion for Experiential Learning" (PDF). National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ "How to Apply". School for Children Admissions. Bank Street School for Children. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  16. ^ "School for Children Lower School". School for Children. Bank Street School for Children. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  17. ^ "School for Children Middle School". School for Children. Bank Street School for Children. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  18. ^ "School for Children Upper School". School for Children. Bank Street School for Children. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Athletics". School for Children. Bank Street School for Children. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Age of children and family income eligibility". Administration for Children and Families Office of Head Start. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  21. ^ Perryman, Anne (2000). A Brief History: Bank Street College of Education. Bank Street College of Education. 
  22. ^ "Center for Children's Literature". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  23. ^ "Irma Black Award". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  24. ^ "Bank Street College of Education". Award Curriculum. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  25. ^ "The Cook Prize". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  26. ^ "Writers Lab". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  27. ^ "Children's Book Committee". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  28. ^ "Awards". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  29. ^ Ally Sheedy bio at
  30. ^ School for Children alumnus receives Guggenheim Fellowship

External links[edit]