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.
Founded in 1789 to educate the sons and daughters of farmers and common folk, the Alexander Robertson School seeks to have an impact on its social environment by educating children from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds to advocate for themselves and for their communities. Our belief that empowerment and education go hand in hand stems from the 18th century egalitarian movement from which our school emerged, and to the social justice values our school maintains today.
Asked whether we are a traditional or a progressive school we generally answer: yes! Our students wear traditional school uniforms. Nice behavior and respect for one another’s thoughts and feelings is a strong focus. We are very comfortable with imparting a sense of order and structure. However, we are progressive when it comes to our curricular choices. Being small we are nimble enough to take advantage of an extraordinary educational opportunity when it presents itself. We are also very creative in the ways we encourage the students to express themselves. We support the children’s learning through interdisciplinary programming, music, the arts, community service, and physical education. Above all we strive to model, encourage and practice good ethical and moral principles. Responsible and sensitive interactions with others is a high priority for the whole community.
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, https://secondpresbyteriannyc.org/ 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 to advocate for themselves and for their communities.
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.
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.
Schools Attended by Recent ARS Graduates
- The Brooklyn Friends School
- The Calhoun School
- The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine
- The Chapin School
- Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School
- The School at Columbia
- The Dalton School
- Dwight-Englewood School
- The Dwight School
- Friends Seminary
- Hackley School
- The Hewitt School
- Horace Mann School
- Ivanhoe Grammar School
- Leman Manhattan Prep School
- Marymount School of New York
- Poly Prep Country Day
- Professional Children’s School
- The Speyer Legacy School
- St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s School
- The Town School
- Trevor Day School
- Trinity School
- United Nations International School
- York Preparatory School
Meet Our Board
Ex Officio Members