Mission Statement and Philosophy
City and Country School, for children ages 2-13, was founded in 1914 by the pioneering educator, Caroline Pratt, during the dynamic period of Progressive Education.
Believing that education is fundamentally a social process, we strive to create a vital school community that supports each child’s innate passion for learning while also expanding their understanding of communities and cultures that exist beyond school and home.
The teacher’s place is alongside the child, posing questions that elicit imaginative thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making in pursuit of a deeper perspective. In the partnership of learning among children and teachers, community is lived through purposeful experiences that foster responsibility, cooperation, active participation, care, and respect—qualities necessary to the life of a democratic society.
With social studies as the core of the curriculum, enriched through science, mathematics, literature, and the arts, students are offered varied opportunities to explore and question the human story, both past and present. Academic and practical skills are embedded in contexts meaningful to children, within larger, in-depth investigations.
At C&C, we assume an ongoing responsibility to understand and reflect the diverse identities, backgrounds, and cultures inherent in our city, which is essential to innovate and thrive. We are committed to making our school authentically inclusive through the lens of antiracism and social justice, ensuring everyone’s fundamental right to be seen, be valued, and belong.
C&C graduates are rigorous, original thinkers who embrace inquiry and experimentation as a means toward discovery. Compassionate in spirit, supportive of the needs and ideas of fellow citizens, and sure of their ability to solve problems, they move confidently into the world and contribute positively throughout their lives.
Most of us have memories of traditional elementary school education. Our teachers taught us subjects that we were expected to master; we were tested on our mastery, and then we were moved on to the next class—often without the chance to ever apply the skills or “tools” that we had been taught. Whether what we learned touched our lives and made sense didn’t seem to be important.
At City and Country School, we think learning is a passionate experience. The process of learning is critically important, and we help children realize that knowing how to find an answer or ask a question is often more useful than the answer itself. We encourage children to try things for themselves, to explore and draw conclusions without fear of failure. We provide opportunities through which children come to value themselves, other people, ideas, skills, responsibilities, and hard work.
We see children both as individuals and as members of a Group. We want children to feel the satisfaction and excitement of their own growing creativity and expertise and to know the shared joy and inspiration of collaboration. The classroom as a resource to be used by the children: a safe, well-planned environment in which constructive work and creative dramatic play can take place. C&C teachers carefully choose meaningful materials to develop students’ responsibility and age-appropriate work standards.
At the core of our curriculum—one which successfully integrates the arts, academics, and ethics—is a belief in the fundamental importance of direct experiences, many of which bring children outside the classroom to serve the larger school community or visit the surrounding neighborhoods. Trips and jobs are viewed as essential hands-on learning tools. From the earliest ages, research in all forms is encouraged as a natural response to everyday experiences and inquiries. As the children’s world enlarges and their quest for information and understanding becomes increasingly based on written communication, they are taught the necessary academic skills.
We believe that in order for children to internalize a sense of moral responsibility to their community, they have to learn to make choices and be responsible for them. Through the discussion and negotiation that evolve in everyday experiences, particularly in their jobs, the children become problem-solvers and critical thinkers.
As a result, after over a century of experiment and practice, the City and Country School is a place where:
- Children are respected
- Children are active participants in their learning
- Children develop the skills necessary to pursue their love of learning
- Children are expected to become responsible members of their Group and the School community
- Children learn to recognize and accept strengths and weaknesses in themselves and others
- Children become lifelong learners