Curriculum Guide 2018-19

Joy with purpose, by design.

Welcome to our online curriculum guide! This page includes guiding principles and a general summary of our approach to each curriculum strand. Use the links at the bottom of the page to jump to detailed curriculum summaries for Nursery-Kindergarten, Lower School, and Upper School, as well as samples of student schedules.

If you have any questions about the information here, please don't hestiate to contact the Admissions team

Our curriculum is dynamic. 

The overall scope of each academic strand is periodically reviewed to establish school-wide enduring understandings and learning goals. This in-depth review by all faculty allows for the development - and continual refinement - of a curriculum that is focused on the knowledge, skills and attitudes that Town graduates will need for success in a secondary school, college, and life beyond Town.

Curriculum Strands Overview

The Arts: Compose, choreograph, create. 
Children of all ages at Town have a voice and are authors of their own artistic experiences. From the first days in a Nursery classroom until the final recessional at graduation ceremonies, the importance of the arts at Town is evident. Walking through the halls, visitors and members of the community can see hundreds of pieces of art on display, hear children’s voices singing, instrumentalists practicing, and witness dancers and actors in rehearsal. All students at Town are given the opportunity to participate in each area of the arts: Dance, Drama, Visual Arts, and Music. Children develop skills in each discipline while learning the importance of respect for the work of others, as well as aesthetic awareness and appreciation.

Language Arts: Lifelong readers and thoughtful, precise communicators.
Our Language Arts curriculum is a comprehensive program that develops each child’s abilities in reading, writing, and spoken expression. It focuses on seven key components: foundational skills, reading, writing, speaking, research, listening, and language development. Throughout the grades, teachers focus on helping children make connections with literature in order to help them establish passions and interests in a variety of genres. Author studies, time spent reading and writing fiction and nonfiction texts, and independent, small group and classroom reading sessions all provide methods and experiences with which to engage students in the Language Arts program. Likewise, the sequential writing program strives to develop writers who are able to write with clear purpose in a variety of genres. The Language Arts curriculum emphasizes process, and it provides a transferable framework for writing across the disciplines at each grade level.

Library: Building a love of reading, research, and inquiry.
The Library serves the Town community with an open-door policy, encouraging students, teachers, and parents to partake of over 18,000 titles in a collection that has been thoughtfully curated to support recreational reading and academic endeavors. The goal of the Library is to promote the joy of reading and develop a love of literature among all patrons, as well as to encourage student research and personal inquiry. Two full-time 
Librarians implement an instructional program that builds from year to year, providing exposure to the wide world of literature and fostering the ability to independently navigate the library, as well as to access and use all of its print and online resources. The library print and digital collections, educational program, and staff have been carefully developed to ensure that students, teachers and parents are provided with the necessary resources to promote high academic and ethical standards. These include the ability to think creatively, read critically, reason logically and demonstrate an understanding of the principles of S.O.S.

Mathematics: Real skills for the real world.
The Math program at Town creates a confident, curious, and resilient mathematician who makes sense of problems, understands how math connects to real-world situations, and perseveres through problem solving. Students learn to approach a problem using multiple strategies and use available tools strategically. They apply mathematical procedures to solve a variety of problems and are able to illustrate and explain their mathematical thinking using multiple modes including symbols, concrete manipulatives, visual models, and written and oral expression. Students become facile with numbers, including mental math, estimation, and quantitative and abstract thinking, and look for patterns and make  connections in order to construct a generalized rule. Town’s math program emphasizes collaboration and the ability to critique the reasoning of others in a constructive manner. Students understand that the experience and lessons learned through the process are as important as the end product.

Physical Education and Athletics: Sportsmanship, achievement, teamwork.
The Physical Education program at Town provides students with opportunities for guided discovery through teaching a variety of age-appropriate skills in a safe, yet challenging environment. Informed by Town’s mission, the program focuses on “joy in learning” while using the S.O.S model (Town’s credo of “Self, Others, Surroundings”) as a key component of the curriculum. Students progress through a carefully scaffolded, process-based curriculum that provides opportunities for maximum participation while emphasizing each individual’s contribution, regardless of ability or skill level. The skills and sports taught are thoughtfully chosen to help foster the importance and value of lifetime physical fitness. The core understandings of the program - cooperation and teamwork, personal and social responsibility, kindness, sportsmanship, dedication, and wellness - are taught through skills and games, as students learn to navigate through successes as well as disappointments. Upper School students have the opportunity to join interscholastic sports teams beginning in 5th grade.

Science: Examination and analysis to make meaning of our world. 
Town’s Science program teaches students to use the Scientific Method to make meaning of the world around them. Our overall approach includes teaching Science in a manner that is skills-centric, application focused, project-based, multisensory and provides multiple perspectives. Through an age-appropriate approach, students explore the fact that Science is dynamic and ever-changing, with assumptions shifting based on evidence. We allow students to take risks, learn from the process and understand that there can be more than one outcome to a problem. By investigating areas such as Chemistry, Biology, Earth Science, Ecology, Astronomy, Physics, Weather, and Genetics, students are able to use their scientific knowledge to become well-rounded and articulate citizens. Students are expected to collaborate with their peers and solve challenges with appropriate scientific tools, data, evidence, and conclusions. Through experience and experimentation, students gain a greater appreciation for the world around them.

Social Studies / History: Multiple perspectives inform complex understanding.
The Social Studies curriculum at Town is a rich and stimulating hands-on program of study. An ethically based understanding of community, an appreciation of history, and a passion for inquiry are instilled in students throughout their years at Town through ongoing explorations of their own and other cultures. A set of school-wide goals for the Social Studies program delivers enduring understandings in a developmentally appropriate way at each grade level, encompassing the overarching concepts of perspective, interconnection, diversity/empathy, agents of change, civilization, communities, and civics. 

Technology: Tools with purpose, innovative instruction, thoughtful digital citizens. 
The Educational Technology program at Town allows students to adapt to new technologies and critically identify their value as tools for learning in order to be creative producers and conscious consumers of media. A Town student learns and understands the importance of flexibility when using new technologies, responsibility as a digital citizen, and collaboration in order to problem-solve and build upon collective knowledge. In order to discover and embrace these values, students learn that technology enables the user to move beyond the classroom and make connections within the community, across the nation, and at a global level. Additionally, students develop the ability to identify and solve problems creatively, acquire technical skills and tools, build an ethical foundation, and discern when to use technology and which tool is best suited for the job at hand.

World Languages: Communicating in a global society.
As the world becomes more interconnected and increasingly multicultural and multilingual, the ability to communicate with others is essential. The World Language Curriculum (Spanish, French and Latin) provides students the opportunity to learn about language, expression, effective communication, and culture. Students learn how to think beyond self and understand the experience of others. Designed to tap many of Town’s Learning Goals, from creativity and self-directedness, to open mindedness, empathy, expression, application and resilience, students are asked to consider others and their communities, and to learn about the value of communication as something that goes beyond literal translation.

Guidance Model

The guidance model is the centerpiece of educational and psychological support at Town. It is based on the concept that the combined knowledge and resources of an interdisciplinary team will ensure the best understanding of the individual student and the unique set of strengths and challenges he or she brings to the school community. Through this understanding, the educational, social, and emotional needs of each child are identified and addressed.  

Guidance Teams consist of homeroom and subject-area teachers, school psychologists, Division Heads, and learning specialists. The main goal of Guidance Team meetings is to review the progress of each student with an eye toward identifying areas of strength, as well as concerns, if and when they arise. In advance of meetings, teachers ask team members to spend time observing the students who will be the focus of the guidance discussion. Through thoughtful exploration of student work and behavior, the team comes to understand each child’s individual learning style and the factors likely to enhance or hinder learning. Based on this understanding, the team brainstorms classroom strategies intended to highlight strengths and address specific obstacles to learning.  

Community Action

Community action projects are an integral part of our curriculum with service learning connected to the curriculum at every grade level. Through Town’s code of ethics, Taking Caring of Town: S.O.S. (Self, Others, Surroundings), students work on projects that meet the real and specific needs of the communities and organizations that they learn about in school. These experiences allow the children to use academic skills and knowledge in real life situations.

The school has long-standing partnerships with organizations such as: The Ronald McDonald House, City Harvest, New York Cares, Rise Against Hunger, The Randall’s Island Alliance, Riverkeeper, Youth Service Opportunities Project, City Meals on Wheels, Jan Hus Urban Outreach Center, Win NYC, and the NYC Partnership for Parks. 

Ethics: Self, Others, Surroundings

We believe that moral development and awareness are critical components of our students’ success. S.O.S. (Self, Others, Surroundings) is the ethical code infused in everyday life at Town. 

Embedded within Town’s S.O.S. credo is the need for critical thinking, communication, collaboration, perspective, empathy, and sustainability. This concept provides a common vocabulary and set of actions upon which each division can create a developmentally appropriate curriculum that captures the social and emotional development of children. The curriculum is broad enough in its perspective to include discussions regarding moral development, ethics, and life skills. 


At Town, we work to foster resilience, encourage creative and critical thinking, and give our children the tools they need to ensure a sustainable future. Educating for sustainability is teaching children to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. We must recognize that all living things and natural systems are interdependent, and in turn, put this understanding to use in our lives, our communities, and the world in which we live. This is a world for which we are all responsible. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

See each Division's curriculum summaries page for examples of diversity and equity themes in the curriculum.

The Town School Statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

Celebrate diversity. Cultivate inclusion. Prepare to change the world.

At The Town School, we believe a diverse, inclusive, and equitable school community is critical for preparing students to participate in a complex, pluralistic, and interconnected society. We challenge ourselves to regularly evaluate and refine curricula, policies, and practices, and to commit the appropriate resources to ensure we embody these beliefs every day.

Guided by a commitment to Town’s ethical motto of Self, Others, and Surroundings, we seek to engage all community members around our multiple identities: among them race, age, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, family composition, ability/disability, learning styles, religion, sexuality, and socio-economic status. By engaging in this exploration of identity, culture, and systems that advantage some and disadvantage others, Town aspires for all members of our community – students, parents, caregivers, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and Trustees – to develop a sense of belonging and for our graduates to bring about positive change in the world.

In support of diversity, inclusion, and equity at Town, all members of our community commit to:

  • Respect all
  • Trust each other to engage in difficult conversations
  • Share our unique stories and listen to others’
  • Learn from different perspectives and experiences
  • Examine our biases and endeavor to overcome them
  • Foster belonging, connectedness, and safety
  • Invest in the personal growth of children and adults alike
Nursery-Kindergarten Curriculum
Lower School Curriculum (Grades 1-4)
Upper School Curriculum (Grades 5-8)
Sample Schedules

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