The Children's Workshop School is considered to be one of the "best-kept secrets in New York." An alternative "choice" public school for children from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, it was formed by Maria Velez-Clarke and Jean Finnerty who wanted to give families in the Lower East Side access to a progressive, smaller, child-centered public school. The two educators had worked together at Central Park East and shared a vision of dynamic, and progressive education.
Maria Velez-Clarke became Principal of the Children's Workshop School and her consistent vision, profound and insightful knowledge of children, and experience as an educator continue to inform and guide CWS as it grows and evolves. Jean Finnerty has since relocated to Finland, where she teaches at the Kesamaki School. The two educators have remained in close contact, sharing news and ideas and have brainstormed about how their students can form cross-cultural bonds.
CWS opened its doors in September 1993, It began at the Goldman Y, on 14th Street and 1st Avenue, eventually moving into the under-utilized Ana Howard Shaw building at 610 East 12th Street. This challenging beginning and transition did not discourage families who chose to be pioneers in the establishment and development of our school, which has grown from those first 80 students and their families to the 260+ students and their families we have today.
The creation of CWS, along with its sister schools, (NS,EVCS,ES
) sparked interest from families throughout New York City and has contributed to their return to our district. This is evidenced by our growing waiting lists, the number of families who have visited our schools as part of the choice process and the rise in student populations which increase every year. Our growth, however, has not hindered our commitment to maintaining a small progressive school, whose students possess a full range of racial, linguistic, and cultural heritages, income levels and learning abilities. The population and staff of the school has grown, and because of strong parental involvement, we have been able to add many enrichment prograns including Instrumental Music and Band, a library program in a new state-of-the art Library and Media Center, and an extensive PTA afterschool clubs program. We continue to enjoy a productive partnership with Manhattan Country School, including a weeklong Farm Program for 4th graders and The Living the Dream Award, a joint project with MCS 5th graders.
In May 2008 The Children 's Workshop School celebrated its 15 year anniversary at a spectacular parent-run event Schoolapalooza 2008!