The Alexander Robertson School is a co-educational Junior-Kindergarten through 5th Grade community of creative learners. We welcome families of every configuration, ethnicity, and religious tradition and believe that empowerment and education go hand in hand.
A Welcome from our Head of School, Brinton Parson:
What do you remember about your first school? My first school was in Norway and I took two trains and climbed a mountain, a real Norwegian mountain, to get there. Our teacher always met the train and took my hand so we could climb up together. I remember my hand in hers and the sight of her lovely Conch shell pink nails swinging in my peripheral vision. I loved my teacher and my school. As ARS is our students’ first school, it will be the one they will always remember and love. It is our singular honor to serve what can be defined as the tenderest years of childhood. It is our collective goal to have each person who crosses the threshold fondly remember whatever feature was their top priority at the time. For a young prospective student, perhaps it is the friendliness of the other children. For prospective parents, perhaps it is the engagement level of the students and faculty. For trained educators, it may be the academic level at which they see our students performing. For grandparents, with an appreciation for longevity, it may be our 230-year history. For the aesthete, it may be the charm of our old-world architecture and style. Priorities change with time, but whatever one finds to value in a small, traditional, independent, coeducational elementary school, that quality even if immeasurable, should be in abundance at ARS.
It is actually the immeasurable qualities that are emphasized at ARS: passion, kindness, empathy, courtesy and thoughtfulness. All of these qualities are by-products of what is considered the core curriculum. There are many worthy measurable qualities that result from a strong curriculum offered by gifted teachers, and our students are the lucky recipients of those as well. ARS ineffably turns curious children into life-long students with a strong foundation in reading, writing (real handwriting, cursive included), mathematics, science, public speaking, multiple foreign languages, and then the subjects of the truly well educated: music, art and ethics.
If you haven’t yet come through the doorway to ARS, I invite you to do so, our students will welcome you. Come find some of these endearing and enduring qualities that define this one-of-a-kind elementary school. I will be delighted to meet you at the door and show you all that we have to offer.
Head of the Alexander Robertson School.
The Alexander Robertson School serves a diverse community of families whose children benefit from a nurturing, mutually respectful environment based around small, coeducational, inclusive classrooms. Focused solely on elementary school years, ARS offers a well-rounded program with high academic standards to educate each individual student in mind, body and spirit that they may become productive members of a global society.
The founding mission of ARS was to serve its community’s ‘common folk’ at a time when only the elite enjoyed the luxury of educating their children. We continue to honor that original purpose and today do also attract families from all walks of life and from around the world. Our school is designed to value and educate every child as a distinct individual, and to foster an environment where students learn collectively and from one another, including from each others’ differences. We have served a broadly diverse population for more than 230 years, and are committed to continue this, both in the children we admit and the faculty we engage to teach them.
The Alexander Robertson School is a co-educational Junior-Kindergarten through Fifth Grade community of creative learners. We welcome families of every configuration, ethnicity and religious tradition. Our current families hail from 20 different countries!
We are very proud of our long history, dating to 1789. We were one of New York’s first co-educational schools and have been in continuous operation for 230 years, but our heritage begins even earlier. In 1696 the Scottish Parliament passed its “Act of Setting Schools” with the purpose of establishing a school in every parish. By 1750 literacy in Scotland was estimated at 75% compared to England’s 53%. This inspired the Scots Presbyterians of New York to replicate Scotland’s success.
Well before New York had public schools Alexander Robertson, a wealthy member of The Scotch Presbyterian Church, donated a house and lots on Pine Street as an endowment for a free school for children of the congregation who would not otherwise have been educated. Now called the Second Presbyterian Church, it continues to provide support to the school in a myriad of ways.
ARS was remarkable from the beginning for accepting both boys and girls, specifically the sons and daughters of farmers and common folk. We continue to embrace the mission of educating children from diverse backgrounds.
Our longevity, traditions, and diversity define our school. Today we are a non-sectarian school and have dwelt in several locations throughout our many years. Our core values have not changed, however. We are committed to mold students into curious and confident learners who develop into innovative thinkers and leaders, prepared for the challenges of adolescence and beyond.
Please see our Head of School, Brinton Parson’s, Blog for more about our school’s unique history and another one of its founding members, Katy Ferguson.
Our Diverse and Inclusive Community
ARS was one of the very first schools that welcomed girls from its onset, in 1789. That initial spirit of inclusivity and its long history is a vital component of who we are. Our students hail from a mix of cultural, religious, ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Today nearly a third of our current students speak English as a second language and are bilingual in Albanian, French, Japanese, Spanish and Ukrainian.
The founding mission of ARS was to serve its community’s ‘common folk’ at a time when only the elite enjoyed the luxury of educating their children. We continue to honor that original purpose and still attract families from all walks of life and from around the world. Our school is designed to value and educate every child as a distinct individual, and to provide an environment that fosters collective learning, including learning about one another’s cultures. We have served a broadly diverse population for more than 230 years and are committed to continue this, both in the children we admit and with the faculty we engage to teach them.
Racial Literacy Program: The goal of this school-wide initiative is to build bridges and connections that will engage our students inside and outside the classroom by encouraging racial literacy, along with geographic and cultural awareness. Fiction and nonfiction texts and other media serve as talking points for classroom dialogue, widening the cultural lens of students in age appropriate ways.
ARS Ethics Curriculum: The ARS Ethics program promotes spaces and opportunities to nurture values and morals in each of our students. The program empowers them to create a world of greater justice, peace and dignity, while working both individually and collectively.
The aim of the program is to help our students build on their individual strengths, while appreciating the diversity around them, to understand and respect people from other cultures and beliefs, to think critically and understand how to create non-violent alternatives in order to live peacefully together.
ARS has a strong relationship with our sister school in Malawi, the Jacaranda School for Orphans, which provides comprehensive, free primary and secondary school education and care to orphans and other vulnerable children. From third grade pen pals to a Carnival-themed fundraiser, the bonds between the schools enrich our students by giving them personal connections with children from a completely different culture.
Located at 3 West 95th Street just steps away from Central Park the Alexander Robertson School offers many wonderful opportunities for play, for nature walks, for visiting the Central Park Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and some of the world’s most important cultural institutions.
It is also easily accessed via the 96th Street Transverse from Manhattan’s East side.
The B and C subway trains stop right by our door and the 1, 2 and 3 trains just a couple of blocks West on Broadway and 96th Street.
Coming by bus? Take the M7, M10, M11 to 94th or 96th Street or take the M96 to Central Park West.
Meet Our Board of Trustees
Ex Officio Members