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The Cathedal School

319 East 74th Street
New York, NY 10021

(212) 249-2840


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Teacher-Led

From the Director:

Central to our approach is The Cathedral School's philosophy of "joyous learning" -- to encourage the child's curiosity and creativity.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense
Time & space
Sci. reasoning/physical world
Visual arts
Physical activity
Other subjects taught Children learn Greek verbally in social exchanges. Instruction is based on oral communication and play. The program includes songs, dramatic play, puppet shows, games and a number of cultural events and celebrations.

From the Director:

Our curriculum is based on thematic units which are taught throughout the year. Our developmental approach is based on these five basic categories: Language Development, Cognitive Development, Physical Development, Social Development and Emotional Development.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Each child is assessed and given activities that strengthen his/her individual strengths and weaknesses.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. Aristotle.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. Albert Einstein

The Cathedral School is unique among nonprofit, co-educational independent schools in New York City in that it integrates the most up to date educational methods in its curriculum and pedagogical approach while adhering to the ancient Greek tradition of "paideia" which views education as character formation, responsibility, and the pursuit of excellence in all its forms. The academic program is rigorous, the setting is nurturing: committed since 1949 to its mission of fostering the natural curiosity, intelligence and creativity of children through excellence in education, The Cathedral School is a nursery through eighth grade school featuring small classes that encourage active student participation. Our school’s size and the exceptional student-teacher ratio of 10 to 1 creates a small "neighborhood" in which each student is known well by many adults, and in which students receive the individual attention needed to help them thrive.

Joyous learning
The Cathedral School’s conviction that intellect and character are two sides of the same coin expresses itself in our core values of joyous learning, commitment, and community with which caring teachers help students reflect upon the choices they make, both as they learn and as they play. The staff and faculty of The Cathedral School recognize how essential parent support is to a child’s development, and thus value a collaborative relationship based on clear and open communication between parents and teachers. Our “neighborhood” dimensions ensure that we know our students well and that their parents stay well informed.

Our teachers fully understand that parents entrust us with what is most precious to them, and are actively committed not only to preparing their children for entrance in the best public and private high schools in New York City through first-rate academic training, but do so while instilling a lifelong desire for learning. The experienced and dedicated teachers of Cathedral have the capacity and, in part because of our outstanding student/teacher ratio, ample time to give constant and particular attention to each of the children in their care. Their objective is to develop what is best in each one while imparting the understanding that they are part of a community; in doing so they all keep in mind Plato’s precept, which is one of our core principles: Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.

Excellence Through the Classics
The curriculum at The Cathedral School, like those of the best private schools in New York City encompasses all the standard disciplines (see the Curriculum page) and applies the highest academic standards. Whether in English, history, math, science, or preparation for standardized tests, our students leave Cathedral ready to enter the most competitive schools in the city, as reflected by our placement record (see the High School Admissions Counseling page). Our success is in large part due to an additional component in our curriculum: from nursery to the eighth grade all Cathedral School students take part in what we like to call “excellence through the classics,” an aspect of their training that both complements and enhances their overall education and academic profile. As reflected in the quotation of Aristotle above, The Cathedral School applies the principles of Hellenism, of a cultural moment that is the origin of the Western tradition, but it does so while implementing the most up to date educational approaches, as befits an institution located in the vibrant, diverse, and forward-looking community that is Manhattan.
Founded in 1949 by The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, The Cathedral School was at first established to serve Greek families in New York City who wanted to instill an appreciation of Greek language, culture and history in their children. Today, the school serves an international student population in which about half of the students are of Greek ancestry, and the other from a wide spectrum of countries and heritage ranging from Ireland and India to Argentina, China and New Zealand. The sheer existence of such a diverse student population at The Cathedral School reflects our view of Hellenism as an inclusive and even universal model that, linked to a modern education, produces inquisitive, creative and academically strong graduates.

Hellenism and the classics are present at The Cathedral School most concretely in the form of language: as early as nursery the children begin the apprenticeship of Modern Greek, which is part of the curriculum until the eighth grade. The benefits of this aspect of the curriculum are many: our own experience over the years, as well as all studies conducted in the field, clearly show that the apprenticeship of another language early on in a child’s education produces extremely positive results. Beyond the apprenticeship of Modern Greek language and culture, the students receive training in classical culture and mythology though literature, film, theater and art, and are encouraged to relate them to all the traditional disciples of the curriculum. For example, while reading The Odyssey in a literature class, students are also working on their own versions of black- and red-figure Athenian vase painting in art class; while studying the Pythagorean theorem in math class, they are also learning about who Pythagoras was in Greek class; in English class recently, a 5th grader made a comparison between Odysseus’ adventures and those of Alice in Wonderland. At Cathedral the classics and classical mythology are thus not restricted to the limits of a particular subject but inform the entire curriculum.

By the seventh grade, having acquired a solid grounding in Modern Greek, all our students embark on the study of Ancient Greek that complements their earlier training in classical literature and mythology (they begin to study French in the fifth grade-- see the Curriculum page). A core group of our teachers are members of the American Classical League and our students routinely win highest honors in the Leagues’ annual ETC (Excellence Through Classics) examination. The Cathedral School is a charter member of the ACL’s National Junior Classical League whose objectives reflect important aspects of our own curriculum: to “… gain an active appreciation and understanding of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, thereby better enabling us as individuals to interpret and appraise our world today.” In the past few years we have also established a close relationship with the Hellenic Studies Program at Columbia University and one of the members of this Program sits on the Board of the School. As part of this collaboration, a fellow of Columbia is teaching a course on “Greek Culture Through Painting” to our students, and next year a group of teachers from Cathedral will be working with faculty from the university’s Hellenic Studies Program.

In short, Hellenism and the classics constitute a unifying and dynamic element of The Cathedral School’s educational mission and enhance its academic program.

"Know thyself"
A description of the roles played by Hellenism and the classics at The Cathedral School would be incomplete without addressing their ethical and spiritual aspects. The synthesis achieved by the Greek Orthodox Church with classical Greek culture, between Plato and Aristotle-- to name only the best known of the classical philosophers--, religion, and the demands of contemporary society reflects their place in our educational mission.

As is the case for our vision of Hellenism in its classical aspect, we see Hellenism in its ethical and spiritual aspect as one that is not confined to a particular group but serves a diverse population of students and their parents. The educational ideal of the Three Hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church in the fourth century AD, was the training of the human being into a cultivated person defined as follows: “One who has developed a character, a person who possesses a core of tried values. An educated person is one who is thoughtful, kind and considerate; one who has a proper regard for the rights, the liberties and the privileges of his fellow men. An educated person is modest and unassuming, searching and inquisitive. He does not think of himself as the center around which mankind or his neighborhood revolves. He practices the ancient Greek wisdom "know thyself" (gnothi s'auton).” The Cathedral School’s mission might in fact be defined succinctly through an expansion of the Socratic gnothi s'auton: to learn to know ourselves as individuals and to learn to know our community and the world, in a diverse, nurturing, and challenging educational environment.

*In ancient Greek the word (n. paedeia or paideia (παιδεία) means child-rearing, education. It was a system of instruction in Classical Athens in which students were given a well-rounded cultural education. Subjects included rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, music, philosophy, geography, natural history, and gymnastics. Paedeia was the process of educating humans into their “true form,” the real and genuine human being.

A Typical Day

Half day children stay until 11:45.
Full day children stay until 2:45.
After School Center offers programs until 4:15.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Our parents are our partners. Parents and teachers communicate daily through oral and written communication.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

The first two days of the school year are half days only. We have extra staff available for the first two weeks to help those children who are having difficulty with separation. Our extensive experience with children of this age makes us sensitive to their needs.