Step into a Bank Street classroom and you’ll witness the magic of purposeful learning. It’s a place where teachers and students come together to solve problems, experiment, and actively engage in the joy of learning. At Bank Street College, educators create these extraordinary classrooms by harnessing their expertise in human development, years of experience, and a commitment to constant reflection.
Bank Street College was established a century ago by Lucy Sprague Mitchell and her colleagues as the Bureau of Educational Experiments. Their revolutionary purpose was to observe and document children’s behavior to better understand the environments that foster their learning and growth. Mitchell believed that developing human potential was the key to societal progress and education, its most powerful tool.
The early years of the Bureau saw the opening of a progressive nursery school, where a hands-on curriculum provided a fertile ground for learning. These classrooms served as living laboratories, where researchers observed and chronicled children’s development. In 1930, the Bureau moved to 69 Bank Street, its namesake location. Here, Mitchell established the cooperative school for student teachers, a program that aimed to stimulate the whole child.
But Bank Street’s impact didn’t stop there. Mitchell went on to establish the Bank Street Writer’s Lab, a space where authors like Margaret Wise Brown and Maurice Sendak were encouraged to create books that captured children’s understanding of the world through language. The collaboration with the New York City Board of Education marked the beginning of Bank Street’s work in professional development, conducting workshops for teachers and expanding its influence on early education.
As the years went by, Bank Street College continued to grow and evolve, changing its name to the Bank Street College of Education. The nursery school expanded to become the School for Children, playing a crucial role in the development of national resources for early childhood education. Bank Street also played a pivotal role in the creation of the nation’s first Head Start program, led by John Niemeyer and Barbara Biber.
Bank Street’s commitment to innovation led to the launch of the Bank Street Readers, a series of multicultural and urban-oriented storybooks that engaged early readers and reflected the real world. In the 1970s, Bank Street found its current home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where the Family Center was established to support children and their families within the local community.
Today, Bank Street College stands as a leader in early education, continuously improving the quality of educational practice and advocating for children and their families nationwide. Rooted in the philosophies of its founders, Bank Street fosters a community bound by a distinctive set of values and beliefs. Through programs like the Bank Street School for Children, The Family Center, Bank Street Head Start, Bank Street Summer Camp, and Liberty Leads, Bank Street provides crucial learning environments for children to become critical thinkers and active members of their communities.
Bank Street’s rich history of research, support, and professional development continues to drive positive change for children within its programs and beyond. It’s a place where the art of teaching is honed, and classrooms come alive with purpose, nurturing the cognitive, social, and emotional growth of every student.
Come and be a part of the Bank Street community, where education is reimagined and the future is shaped. Discover more about our journey here!